Throughout the year 2002, Paul Diener posted a lot of very interesting messages to the mailing list Addict-L, from Kent State University. These letters are particularly interesting in how they relate to Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, addiction, and the politics of addiction, "treatment", and recovery.
Paul Diener had a Ph.D. in history, and it was well-earned. I learned a lot from him, and he gave me many leads and hints and things to research. He also taught me the importance of taking copious notes and always recording where you got your information.
We were talking about collaborating on a book when he suddenly went silent. I received letters from some people in Europe asking if I could get in contact with him because he wasn't answering emails. Then his email account was cancelled by his ISP. Alas, I believe he died. I then got a report that he had been in ill health. I suspect that he had been dumping his screeds onto Addict-L as fast as he could because he knew that the end was coming.
In the following letters, I have removed other people's names. You will occasionally see a name like "DDDDDD", or "RRRRY". That is because Diener sometimes sharply criticized other members of the mailing list, and it is not my desire to repeat any attacks on those people.
Please note that I do not personally agree with everything that Diener says, but I agree with a lot of it, and find it fascinating. In addition, he cites and quotes many books and papers. I have checked a lot of his references, and have never found one to be wrong. He knows his stuff.
The core of Heidegger's philosophy was the concept of 'spirituality'. "The question," he once remarked, "is whether or not we want to make a spiritual world."
This was the core idea in ALL of the classical fascist movements, too.
The classical fascisms themselves grew out of a broader cultural trend which the historian, Zeev Sternhell, labels the Modern Spiritual Tradition.
The Modern Spiritual Tradition in the West arises in opposition to the Enlightenment/Materialistic/Naturalistic Tradition, around 1870. These two great intellectual currents in the industrialized world have faced one another in opposition ever since.
The 'addiction' myth needs to be placed within the context of the Spiritual Tradition. This means that 'addiction' professionals should become much more familiar with modern intellectual history than they are.
It is disingenuous for an 'addiction' professional - whose field, after all, is part of a vast War On Drugs funded massively by the American government - to talk about seeing the world in apolitical terms.
We need to see the world in political terms, with 'politics' here having its broad, original meaning. That is, we have to see people as living in the 'polis', in community. What 'addiction' mythology does is create a non-existent 'individual' whose problems stem from his/her own self, and NOT from connection to the 'polis', to the community.
But no one is an island in this way, divorced from the main. (Neo-conservatives, like Peele, would like us to believe in this 'entrepreneurial' vision of the individual, though).
Spiritual healing, and crusades for purity, lie at the very heart of the bourgeois reaction to modern economic crises. If one takes the long and global view - and one MUST start with this view to get the right context - then the modern Spiritual Tradition is seen as beginning with the Long Depression of the late Victorian Era.
There has been ebb and flow in the Spiritual Tradition since 1870, correlated with what economists call 'long waves' in productive expansion. During the post-WW II expansion, for example, 'spirituality' seemed a cultural trend in decline. The 'Religious Right' and the 'Conservative' political movment seemed nearly defunct..
But, with the massive devaluation of the dollar and the oil shocks of the 1970s, the middle class was thrown into crisis, internationally. A sudden resurgence in "spirituality," across the industrialized world, occurred. Appeals for 'purity' and 'traditional values' mount. The War On Drugs begins.
Modern 'Spirituality' is a philosophical perspective of a middle-class in crisis. (If you actually READ Heidegger, you would discover he himself says this.) And anti-'addiction' crusades are a part of this crisis response.
Not all movements thrown up by the spiritual tide have, or will, become political and fascistic. Indeed, most remain merely diffuse protofascist cults - like the Oxford Groups, or AA, or the various Jungian cults, or the cultic formations that have embraced the mystical ideas of Heidegger.
Such protofascist movements are not great dangers, by and in themselves. AA is NOT a great danger in the U.S. today.
But AA IS a protofascist, spiritual movement, and its expansion serves as a warning signal to us. AA is important for what it tells us about where our culture is heading.
To focus ONLY on AA - and, worse, to distort and lie about AA, to wildly exaggerate its 'dangers', only to promote some other variety of right-wing thinking - is pernicious.
What is required is that we step back, and put the mythical concepts of 'addiction' and 'spirituality' in historical, cross-cultural perspective. We need to see 'addiction' as a core concept of the Spiritual Tradition, which emerged in the West when the Industrial Revolution first began to falter, around 1870.
Will 'addiction' professionals ever do this? Probably not.
Semmelweis won no prize for medical research.
16 April 2002
[Some critics of A.A.] fail to place AA in the broader historical and cultural perspective of SPIRITUAL REVOLUTIONS and MASS PURITY MOVEMENTS.
In fact, as historians like Sternhell, Mosse, Pachter, and dozens of others have noted, 'Spiritual Revolutions', and the Mass Revitalization Crusades for Purity which almost universally accompany such movements, are a major feature of modern history.
We have evidence of Spiritual Revolutions - which begin in the cultural realm, but can move into social policy and politics, too - from scores of countries. Purifying the nation from 'impurity', curing the population of its 'spiritual diseases', has been an important theme in industrialized countries from about 1870. But these movements have ebbed and flowed, and have taken different forms in different countries.
I have cited scores of works relevant to the topic. The obvious starting point for someone new to the literature would probably be the Proctor book - written by an Ivy League academic of 'left-liberal' persuasion, very, very widely praised for its original archival scholarship, and focused heavily upon anti-alcohol, anti-tobacco, anti-'food addiction', and anti-'sex addiction' in the German fascist case.
AA is like, say, the European protofascist youth movement (the Wandervogel, see H. Pachter, 1982, kWeimar Etudes, Colombia U. Press, pp. 18ff.). The Wandervogel, and AA, PORTEND great danger, but such movements virtually never are the actual INSTRUMENTS of that danger. The Oxford Groups, too, was clearly a protofascist cult. But it was much too disorganized and friviolous to ever be a fascist PARTY.
(re the Wandervogel:
17 May 2002 11:34:14 -0500
[Another person wrote:]
No, he doesn't really admit that the government's anti-drug ads 'haven't worked'. Nor has any proof been presented that they 'haven't worked'.
He HAS admitted that drug use in target populations did not decline after the media campaign, which cost nearly one billion dollars. No surprise there. But this is very different from saying that the government's ad program 'hasn't worked'.
The U.S. government is run by, and advised by, smart people. This may not hold for some politicians, but it certainly holds for those who ADVISE politicians. I don't like the values of DDDDDD, XXXX and their ilk, but I don't deny that they are savvy. The government is advised by the 'best brains money can buy'.
The government anti-drug advertising campaign has been a success, as has the overall War On Drugs.
The goal here, however, is NOT to 'reduce drug use in target populations'. That may be the expressed goal, the 'manifest function' (to use a phrase coined by Merton). But that is only a cover story. Government experts are not so stupid that they thought disaffected youths would change their lifestyle due to a 30-second spot.
And, indeed, the most brilliant success of this anti-'addiction' campaign was the media announcement that the campaign had failed!
For this supposed 'failure' demonstrates to the middle-class that the government tried to go about things nicely. It advertised and advised, it informed and cajoled.
But the little Untermensch bastards living in Black and Hispanic ghettos didn't listen, did they?
The obvious conclusion is that 'playing Mr. Nice Guy' does not work with genetically-flawed scum.
Hence, the government is now justified in turning to means a bit more 'drastic', no?
The billion dollar advertising campaign has been a success. It has increased bourgeois drug hysteria. And it has paved the way a bit more towards a Final Solution to the 'addiction' problem.
Date: Tue, 21 May 2002
In last Sunday's Parade Magazine supplement - distributed with many Sunday newspapers, nationwide - appeared an article on Attorney General John Ashcroft. Ashcroft was described as a firm anti-terrorism fighter, and as a government warrior in the battle against drugs. (The Justice Dept, of course, oversees the DEA).
Ashcroft describes himself as a believing Pentecostal Christian, whose conservative Christian faith is at the core of his being. Early in life, he says, he took a vow never to taste alcohol (along with many other 'purity vows' he assumed). Every day, Ashcroft says, it is the spiritual realm that guides his actions.
In Second Opinion (2001, May, a journal published by the Park Ridge Center in Chicago), Martin E. Marty speculates about "Why The Talk of Spirituality Today?"
Marty, at the U. of Chicago, is one of the nation's leading academic researchers on religion and spirituality.
The U.S. has entered a Spiritual Revolution over the last several decades, Marty notes. (Concommitant with the Conservative Revolution in politics, which forms a part of the larger, spiritual change in our culture and society).
In healthcare, around 1950, Marty says, secular ideas were absolutely dominant. (Marty has published over 50 volumes; see esp. his Health, Medicine and the Faith Traditions, 1982 with K. Vaux, and his Faith and Medicine in the Lutheran Tradition, 1985). Religion and spirituality at mid-20th century was seen merely as a comfort offered by the chaplain to some patients. It was NOT seen as a part of scientific medicine.
Today, however, things have changed. The Spiritual Revolution has entered the medical and health fields in a dramatic way. Yet, Marty notes, the traditional mainstream, liberal faith traditions continue to decline. It is the fundamentalist and charismatic faiths that are surging, such as Ashcroft's Pentecostalism.
Why? One reason, Marty says, is the failure of liberal, technology-and-science-based social philosophies to deliver the goods. "Thus, in the heartland of Euro-American cultures, where 'postmodern' elites now question the Enlightenment Project, there is less confidence in science as such.... The Enlightenment investments in progress... have turned bearish."
(I have suggested that this global trend toward spirituality and superstition relates to the global economy, in which growth has slowed from above 5% in real terms in the 1950s, to just over 2% in real terms in the 1990s. As the world slips into global economic depression, we are moving, culturally, into a situation resembling that of the 1930s. Then, too, spirituality and superstition surged.)
As Marty notes, the American drive towards Spiritual Revolution is supported by the elites, while the rank and file of society have sometimes had to be dragged into this vast cultural movement. This holds in the medical and health fields, too.
Christina Puchalski, Director of Education at the National Institute for Healthcare Research, notes that no courses were offered in American medical schools in the 1950s dealing with the topics of spirituality/religion. Today, she says, over 60 medical schools (around half of all schools, with the number rapidly increasing) teach their students about the 'spiritual' aspects of patient care. Most of these new courses having been introduced in the last ten years. (in "Medical Schools Explore Benefits of Spirituality," CNS News, go to www.CNSNews.com).
Dr. Harold Koenig, founder of the Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health, at the Duke University Medical Center, points to some 1,200 studies that indicate the powerful role 'spirituality' plays in human health, supposedly. Dr. Herbert Benson, another guru of the spirituality and medicine movement, says he is 'addressing God and belief in the language of science' (in "Science Meets Spirituality," E. Livini, 2000, at ABCNEWS.com).
Benson is at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston, and is affiliated with Harvard.
Perhaps the most notable thing about this whole movement - a dramatic cultural revolution, which is changing the United States in unprecedented ways - is that it is a revolution FROM THE TOP DOWN. Spirituality comes from well-funded centers at Harvard and Duke, and is pushed on medical students - whether they like it or not. Spirituality comes from Ashcroft in the Attorney General's office, and is pushed on minor marijuana violators -whether they like it or not.
Spirituality, as Steven Tipton put it in a notable study, is America's way of "Getting Saved From the Sixties" (1982, U. of Calif Press).
The Spiritual Revolution is an elite-led movement of 'reactionary revitalization'. It provides cultural and superstitious justifications for dominance by 'higher powers'. Its goal is to deflect popular demands for MATERIAL reforms in society, and in economic institutions.
Technically, today's Spiritual Revolution is a form of 'protofascism', which always takes the shape of an elite-led cultural revolution.
I have challenged academics who post on this site - eg, ZZZZZZ, XXXX - to address this critical matter. For starters, I have suggested that they comment upon Robert Proctor's seminal The Nazi War On Cancer (1999, Princeton U. Press).
Proctor discusses the Nazi battle against 'addictions' to alcohol, tobacco, and other 'impure' products and acts. He shows how the Nazis used 'addiction' as a symbolic evil, in order to create hysteria, and foment a vast 'symbolic crusade' against ALL forms of 'impurity'.
Like Ashcroft, many of the top leaders of the National Socialist movement were deeply 'spiritual' men, who merged pseudo-medical ideas with their spiritual superstitions.
Proctor's book has been very widely reviewed, and very widely praised as accurate and important. Yet, DDDDDD and RRRR have so far refused to comment on the book (or on any of the other of the several score sources I have cited bearing on this matter).
In the marketplace of ideas, academics too often enter only to sell their goods. They thus avoid embracing ideas that might be unpopular in the marketplace. They only think what sells.
A commitment to truth, and to the welfare of humanity, demands a sterner mettle.
Sent: Tuesday, May 21, 2002 5:57 PM
There is a huge amount of research which bears on 'conversion'.
I disagree with both WWWWW (whose approach is 'too hot'), and with you (your approach is 'too cold').
Like Goldilocks, I want an approach that is 'just right'.
WWWWW thinks spiritual converts to AA, for example, are brainwashed and manipulated by the elite. But the idea of 'brainwashing' has very little scientific credibility. And conversions to AA are voluntary.
Sure, those exposed to AA are often under social and economic pressure, they are given limited information, they are pushed and badgered. But these are pressures, not 'brainwashing'. Most people resist the pressures, and reject AA. (Though I think AA has been gradually improving its 'conversion rate', as its social prestige and influence have increased, and as America's general Spiritual Revolution has gained strength).
Your theory, on the other hand, is 'too cold'. You suggest that conversions to spiritual movements occur because religous consumers simply find the 'product' attractive ('it gives them hope').
This is much too simple.
(Notice how your thinking betrays a libertarian bias, and posits 'autonomous religious consumers'. But consumers - whether of products or ideas - are not purely autonomous in modern capitalist states. They are subject to mass advertising. And they face limited choices, since products tend to be supplied by oligopolies. Yes, consumers do choose, but UNDER CONSTRAINTS IMPOSED BY THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC STRUCTURE.)
If we were to accept your 'it gives people hope' idea, how would we explain the explosion in spirituality NOW?
Paul Tillich said, in the 1950s, that the concept of 'spirituality' had died out in the West, and that it could never be revived. But, today, it has arisen as if from the dead.
Why now? Surely any 'hope' the spiritual realm offered, it offered in 1950, too.
And spirituality has spread only in some groups, in some economic segments. It has been fiercely resisted in others. Why?
Are some people - the Untermensch? - just blind to the 'hope' that the spiritual realm offers us? You seem close to saying this, and, of course, this is John Ashcroft's view of materialistic infidels.
I don't agree. I think if we look more closely at the economic, social, and historical variables involved, we will discover why some groups and classes tend to embrace spirituality, while others reject it.
Moreover, the phenomenon is global. Consider, for example, the collapse of Nasser's secular socialism in Egypt, and the subsequent rise of Islamic fundamentalism in that country (along with increased alcohol and drug avoidance). Are we to explain this eruption of spirituality by saying that the mullahs offer people 'hope'. Is that a sufficient explanation? Didn't Nasser offer hope, too?
Myself, I researched the rapid rise of evangelical Chrisitianity in the Chorti Maya area of Guatemala after the military defeat of the peasant rebellion led by the F.A.R. (Many peasants described the rebellion's defeat as 'el fracaso de la gente', the 'failure of the people').
Similar sudden explosions of fundamentalist Christianity have occurred in post-Allende Chili, and in post-Sandinista Nicaragua, and elsewhere in Latin America.
You see the same thing all across sub-Saharan Africa, where a huge growth of evangelical and cultic Christianity is occurring, following upon the collapse of 'African Socialisms'. Ditto in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Spiritual Revolutions seem to take place, as Martin Marty says, when science and material change fail us.
Many people, it seems, repair to spiritual solutions at the personal level when change at the social level appears hopeless. The classic example, of course, is the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the sudden explosion of fascist movements across Europe, ALL of which defined themselves as spiritual movements.
But, while Spiritual Revolutions may begin with a focus on the self, and on 'family values', these reactionary revolutions are not static. They evolve, grow, and change. The Wandervogel movement was almost entirely about personal life; but its members later flooded into the Nazi movement.
Common people make personal choices. But their choices are constrained by the larger systems within which they are encapsulated. And these larger systems change, too. 'Internal meanings' thus help people function in a world whose external, changing constraints they mostly do not control, and may not even understand.
In today's new, meaner world - in which welfare states are collapsing, and dreams of 'economic development' and 'progress' have turned into nightmares - 'spiritual' ideologies may, indeed, serve much of the population as a strategy for coping. These ideologies encourage people to 'hitch up their belts and try harder', they insist that wasteful habits be put aside, and they encourage the formation of local voluntary-group cliques, which serve as instruments of mutual aid.
These are survival techniques for a meaner era.
But will the world stop here? Will the downward spiral of the global economy toward economic depression stop today, and go no further?
Or will present trends continue? If so, will the Spiritual Revolution carry us onward, far beyond just a reformation of personal habits. Buchman, after all, went from the Oxford Groups to M.R.A. And 1950s AA has been transmogrified into today's 12-Step treatment movement, government funded and coercive. ZZZZZZ says all this is 'stupid', and will soon fade away. Not very likely!
Look at the Christian Conservative movement. Look at Fundamentalist Islam. Most of all, look at the history of protofascism and fascism, from 1870 to the end of WW II.
Spiritual Revolutions BEGIN as movements of personal transformation, but they can easily become movements of social revolution.
As intellectuals, we need to connect the personal life of meaning, with the larger political and structural constraints which limit our choices and channel our efforts. And we need to speak the truth about power.
The Spiritual Revolution in the U.S. - and in the world - is the most important phenomenon of our time. The crusade against 'addictions' and for 'personal purity' is part of this larger phenomenon. We need to put things into context.
Finally, [neither of two others] will comment on the much reviewed and highly praised work of Robert Proctor. Proctor's original research revealed 'addiction' fighting to be a central project during the Third Reich. Hitler had his own WOD, it turns out. It is important to understand the significance of this, and Proctor's highly praised work should be read by EVERY person with an interest in 'addiction'. (Only for starters, of course).
Intellectuals study important matters. But academics, it seems, restrict their thinking to what they can sell in the marketplace of ideas. Shame!
Sat, 25 May 2002
I have cited a great deal of polling data to document the Spiritual Revolution. For a recent summary, see Timothy Jones and George Gallup, Jr., 2000, The Next American Spirituality: Finding God in the Twenty-First Century, Chariot Victor Publications.
'Spirituality' does NOT mean 'religion'.
While Pentecostal, Neo-Pentecostal, Charismatic, and other Christian and non-Christian religious movements of an 'enthusiastic' variety have been spreading, there has been a concommitant decline in the mainstream, liberal faiths. The result is that church and synagogue attendance has not changed a great deal, though the content of faith and the form of worship has.
To this, though, must be added all the other 'spiritual' movements which have arisen in recent years.
Especially, the 'spiritual therapy' movement needs to be taken into account. (This is where AA, the 12-Step Movement, and the treatment industry fit.) Also, you must count spiritual dietary movements, spiritual ecology movements, spiritual bodywork movements, spiritual 'animal rights' movements, spiritual astrology movements, spiritual psychic communication movements, the new 'spiritual' movement in medicine, the 'spiritual' and 'values' movement in education, and on and on. This stuff is more widespread than you think - though I agree it tends to be puerile and jejune.
We even have a new, spiritual politics.
(Have you heard of the 'Faith-Based Initiative'? It is the spiritual answer to poverty, we are told, and is meant to replace the materialistic welfare state.)
I don't, of course, argue that the Spiritual Revolution has swept over the entire American population. There are opponents, amongst whom I count myself.
As Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan and William Bennett all observe, there is a 'culture war' going on in this country. And that war, they say, will be to the death. I agree, and I think the battle has hardly been joined.
The 'addiction-treatment' movement is part of the culture war. It is a government-corporate funded propaganda effort, designed to convince Americans that the malaise in this nation is rooted in INDIVIDUAL impurity, and not in social and political inequality on a world scale.
This is the reason ZZZZZZ and his ilk are so well-paid by the big corporations. They are paid to teach us that the fault lies in ourselves.
But the solution is not to be sought in a pill, but in a political program. Not in dopamine, but in true political and economic democracy. Democratic politics must be global, it must embrace ALL people, and it must begin with a massive redistribution of the world's wealth and power.
The Spiritual Revolution in America is what George Mosse calls a 'displaced revolution'. It is a reemergence of the fascist deception.
ZZZZZZ's 'mystical biology', you need to understand, is a form of spirituality, too. Jonathan Edwards long ago condemned it as the 'physicalist heresy'. More recently, German fascism offered us a 'medical' road to social recovery:
"There is in truth only one humane idea, that is, 'furthering the good,
eliminating the bad'. The will of nature is the will of God.... How
does nature work for millenia with her creatures? She sides with the
strong, good and victorious one and separates the chaff from the wheat. We
simply fulfill the commandment, no less."
30 May 2002:
In 1999, Robert N. Proctor's The Nazi War On Cancer won the American Public Health Association's Arthur Viseltear Prize for History of Public Health, awarded by the Medical Care Section of that organization.
Some review snippets from the Princeton University Press website:
"A provocative and powerful book.... makes important contributions to the history of medicine" (Times Higher Education Supplement)
"Proctor's account is outstanding" (D. Brown, Washington Post Book World).
"This is an important book that will encourage the reader to reflect on the ways in which medical science was conducted and used in the twentieth century" (Nature).
"Arresting and important" (D. Kevles, New York Review of Books)
"Highly recommended" (Library Journal)
"An illuminating documentation of the interaction between science and national neuroses" (S. Nuland, New Republic)
"Fascinating, substantial.... a major contribution... will undoubtedly (and deservedly) become a standard item on reading lists of 20th century history" (P. Fritzsche, American Scientist).
"Appears to be a work of public health history but is really much more." "Much of what the book reveals may well prove disturbing to many readers.... All who consider themselves participants in the contemporary war on cancer had best read this book" (Journal of the American Medical Association)
"A remarkable study" (M. Jay, London Review of Books)
"pathbreaking and courageous.... an important historiographic critique.... Proctor challenges readers to contemplate what it means for fanaticism, crime and callousness to have coexisted with common sense and rigorous scientific inquiry" (B. McFarland-Ickes, Medical History).
For a couple of years now, I have been urging [two people] to look at historical and comparative materials that raise troubling questions about modern, state-operated 'purity crusades'.
I have cited scores of sources. I have suggested Proctor's work might be a good place to begin consideration of this sort of material.
They have absolutely refused to attend to this sort of material.
What are they afraid of: the truth?
"Our admissions of personal POWERLESSNESS finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and personal lives may be built.... Until he so humbles himself, his sobriety - if any - will be precarious" (12 Steps and 12 Traditions, p. 21, my emphasis, Conference approved literature, of course).
"This philosophy must be SOLD to every victim.... It must be accepted UNSTINTINGLY" (Anonymous, 1941, "Ex-Souses Tell of AA," Milwaukee Journal, April 30, my emphasis).
As in many states, the AA movement spread into Wisconsin through links to the elite. In Milwaukee, a local judge adopted AA as a 'project' after the Rockefeller dinner, and began pushing people into the movement from the bench. The above article describes the group as having only 20 members in the entire city in 1941, yet 35 column inches are devoted to this fledging politico-religious movement! And this was only one article of many to appear in the major area newspaper during the formation of AA in southeastern Wisconsin.
Here is a research project for an enterprising masters candidate. Every urban locale will have a newspaper record of the first stirrings of AA. And in every locale, I am sure, the record will show the very same thing: the movement was introduced from the top down.
Judges, law enforcement officers, prison officials, leaders in the medical community, prominent businessmen first adopted AA as a project. Then, they found willing agents in the community, who volunteered to join the movement, and disseminate its 'program', in return for social and economic benefits.
In short, right from the beginning, being 'powerless' vis a vis the elite came packaged with being arrogant and totalitarian in relationships to those of lower class-standing.
From its very origin, AA worked with the concept of Führerprinzip — just as had Buchmanism.
[a critic wrote:]
Well, you can't have it both ways.
You can't hand out the 'spiritual' literature to the suckers who are
ordered by the judge to attend your occultic get-togethers, urging them to
read the miracle-words in order to be transformed,
'Conference approved' means really, really, really 'spiritually powerful stuff', no?
In fact, as Antze points out, the formal ideologies of all these cultic groups are taken quite seriously by acolytes and gurus both:
"Self-help groups are more than encounter clubs or confessional
societies. Each claims a certain wisdom concerning the problem it treats.
Each has a specialized system of teachings that members venerate as the
secret of recovery. These are often codified in a book or recited in
capsule form at the start of each meeting.
Antze, Paul 1976 "The Role of Ideologies in Peer Pyschotherapy Organizations: Some Theoretical Considereations and Three Case Studies", The Journal of Applied Behavior Science, 12 (3), p. 324.
AA is one of the case studies included in this article.
July 1, 2002
>> It is difficult to get a man to understand something >> when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. >> - Upton Sinclair
An even darker observation, but also true, I fear:
"The dearest ambition of a slave is not liberty, but to have a slave of his own."
Tells you something about 'alcoholics' and 'addicts' who, after their own 'treatment,' then go into the 'addiction' treatment profession themselves - where they teach their clients that they must 'beg like babies.'
2 July 2002:
The quote's from the first Burton.
NOBODY is an "alcoholic." The 'physical disease' that only a 'spiritual treatment' can successfully address is a politico-religious myth.
Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is a naturalistic conception of a habitual behavior.
Virtually anyone can develop a heavy drinking habit, given the right circumstances and the desire to 'escape' from SOCIAL dis-ease and discomforts. Alcohol impairs cognition, and aids in the task of psychological repression. Like all psychotropics, alcohol interferes with higher-order information processing. You do not think straight when drunk or stoned, contra MXXX's bio-racial myth.
Narcissistic Americans, especially of the lower-middle class, who enter into the 'recovery movement' (or into the very similar neo-Pentecostal or Charismatic movements, for that matter) often mythologize themselves into 'wounded healers'. They become modern-day shamans.
Leave it to narcissistic Americans to turn even their personal drunken comportment into something 'oh, so very special,' 'oh, so very precious'.
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2002 11:35 PM
[Another person commented:]
>> "Leave it to narcissistic Americans to turn even their >> personal drunken comportment into something 'oh, so >> very special,' 'oh, so very precious'." > > ... Thus making lemonade out of a lemon. >
There is nothing wrong with a lemon. And you don't have to add refined sugar to it, either, to make it nutritious.
On the other hand, there is nothing right about being a drunk.
Being a drunk is immoral. (Though we need to understand that 'immorality' has a SOCIAL locus. We need to blame individual drunks less, and blame the society which creates the need for 'escape' a lot more.)
Liberation theologists have a concept of 'social sin,' which I think has merit when stripped of its 'spiritual', superstitious connotations.
12-Stepping isn't lemonade. Instead, it is intellectual poison.
An example: 12-Step treatment for 'gambling addiction', a speciality you are now acquiring under order from the state government.
But the government is the biggest PUSHER of gaming in Minnesota!
Gaming, pushed and advertised, becomes widespread - and it brings with it inevitable problems. These problems don't just threaten some class of 'biologically-inferior Untermensch.' In fact, gambling problems emerge anywhere gambling is pushed, and they emerge through stochastic processes which operate across the whole population. Some parts of the population, though, are more targeted by gambling pushers, and are also more susceptible to their advertising pleas.
Gaming is a substitute for the now-dying American Dream. As the economy has decayed since the early 1970s, real wages have undergone steady erosion. The hope of improving one's life, and one's family's welfare, have come under assault.
Government, with its own fiscal crisis to face, has offered the fraudulent hope of getting rich via gambling. In fact, state lotteries bilk the poor and lower-middle class - those whose American Dream has been most damaged - by offering them a substitute: the mirage of getting rich by gambling. Many are sucked in, and some get into serious economic problems. Just as with alcohol, widespread use causes inevitable widespread damage. This damage must be explained away.
Enter the dishonest 12-Step therapist.
It is the job of this jackel to explain to the victims how the whole process is a result of THEIR biological inferiority!!!
This exculpiates the real evil-doers: the greedy and gutless politicians, the big corporations that diminish hopes and real economic opportunities by closing factories and demanding tax reduction (while corruptly enriching themselves), the gaming industry vampires who suck profit out of the poor and pocket high salaries, the advertising flacks who dress the whole thing up as a munificent enterprise. And to this list is rightfully added the cowardly 12-Step therapists, who meekly report on time to their 'addiction therapy training classes', when Big Brother orders them to do so. Their job is to 'cool out the marks'. That is, they are to explain that the problems are all 'in the man, not in the bottle.'
This is a lie. The problems associated with mass alcohol use are SOCIAL in generation, and the problems associated with mass gambling are SOCIAL in generation.
A REAL 'therapy' for gambling in America would get at the root of the problem, and attack the corrupt politicians and corporate executives who promote these scams.
But 12-Step professionals never do this. For them, the 'higher powers' are sacred authorities, and only the victims are to bear the blame for social ills.
This kind of dishonesty is not 'lemonade' - it is political poison.
(See Robert Goodman, 1985, The Luck Business: The Devastating Consequences and Broken Promises of America's Gambling Explosion, Free Press, for a good political-economic of who, and why, the deceit of gambling is being pushed on Americans by their political and corporate leaders).
5 July 2002
[To a critic:]
Do you have a citation for your claim that Wilson was 'sequestered away' at Towns Hospital, and 'allowed only Oxford Group visitors'?
I have not read this in any of the secondary accounts.
Towns Hospital did not include Oxford Group indoctrination as part of its brief drying-out treatment, to the best of my knowledge. In fact, adapting the 'spiritual treatment' to the 'physical disease' of 'alcoholism' seems to have been Wilson's own innovation.
Of course, critical researchers are not allowed access to the archives. Only AA boosters, like Kurtz, have that privilege. So my knowledge here is necessarily incomplete. If you have discovered evidence that the Oxford Group program was integrated into the Towns treatment before Wilson arrived, that would be of the great interest.
I think you misunderstand Wilson, though. I don't believe he was ever 'brainwashed' into the Oxford Groups purity cult.
Wilson's contemporary associates in the Oxford Groups consistently said that Wilson, and Lois, never became 'maximum'.
Wilson found the spiritual claptrap of the Oxford Groupers attractive. But he was attracted to all sorts of other superstitious nonsense during his lifetime, too, including even contacts with ghosts during séances in his home! But these attractions to the 'spiritual' did not seem to influence the corrupt nature of the man.
Wilson remained a vulgar womanizer. He bragged about his adulterous sexual affairs in very coarse terms, disgusting those around him. He continued to be a heavy cigarette smoker (the OGs frowned on the habit). He continued to be dishonest and corrupt in his business affairs, too.
I think we have to conclude that Wilson, while attracted to puerile superstition and spirituality, manipulated such ideas for his own benefit. He remained very much an opportunist, who USED the Oxford Groups to promote his own selfish interests. This is not to say he did not have SOME belief. But his belief was always shallow. (Think of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, or Jimmy Swaggart, as comparative types - though Wilson seems to have been even LESS 'truly committed' to the OGs than these are to Christian Protestantism.)
As Wilson sobered up at Towns Hospital on his several visits, he learned of Charlie Towns's earlier prominence, and that Towns had run a chain of profitable hospitals before Prohibition.
FDR and the New Deal had repealed Prohibition. Obviously, some new means of dealing with drunkeness was going to be required, and this was being discussed in all the newspapers. Wilson, who had made a living analyzing businesses and their potential for expansion, could see that an operation like Town's would benefit from repeal. Just as Towns's business had been highly successful before Prohibition, so it was likely that a similar business would succeed after Prohibition.
From his personal experience, Wilson knew that the belladonna, etc., treatment offered by Towns was hooey. But then came Ebby, pointing out that the Oxford Groups already had a very low-cost means of 'curing' drunks, and that this 'program' was being praised in all the newspapers, and lauded by the rich and powerful.
Wilson figured that, with Repeal, he could easily raise money to open a drunk-fighting chain of for-profit hospitals, which would use the Oxford Group program instead of Towns's method, in the fight against 'alcoholism'. And he figured he would become very rich in the process of 'doing good'.
We don't have to assume Wilson was totally insincere in his Oxford Group affilitation. What we do need to do, though, is take the historical record for what it is.
How can we claim that Wilson was brain-washed, when the Oxford Grouper themselves say he never really bought their program, was never really 'maximum'.
He dropped out after only a couple of years. He never reformed his own 'bad habits', from compulsive adultery to cigarette smoking. In short, there is no real evidence that shows Wilson to be a committed true-believer. Instead, he remained a flim-flam man and an opportunist, with a penchant for superstitious nonsense.
Indeed, when you talk about the people running the big 12-Step treatment outfits today, this is how you tend to view THEM, as flim-flam men who try to sell themselves on the product they huckster.
Wilson was like this, too.
6 July 2002
[to a critic]
... where in the world do you get the idea that the Oxford Groupers "selected" Towns Hospital as the facility in which Wilson would sober up?
This is total nonsense.
Wilson was in Towns Hospital on FOUR occasions, and each stay was brief (and expensive). The admissions were:
Autumn, 1933 Late Spring, 1934 Summer, 1934 Dec., 1934
Now, Wilson had no contact with the Oxford Groups until his friend, Ebby, stopped by and visited him, and extolled his own 'recovery from alcoholism' via the Groups. That happened in November, 1934. By then, Wilson had already been in and out of Towns THREE TIMES.
Towns Hospital was a well-known drying-out tank for wealthy drunks. It was selected for Wilson by his sister's, Dorothy's, husband: Dr. Leonard Strong. Strong was an osteopathic physician practicing in the New York area. Strong also picked up the tab for Bill's four short stays at Towns (each less than a week, if memory serves).
There is no evidence that Dr. Strong was an Oxford Grouper.
There is no evidence that Oxford Groupers had anything to do with Wilson's four admissions to Towns.
Bill's first real exposure to the Oxford Group method came in November of 1934, via Ebby.
As to Silkworth, it would be worth looking into his background.
He was a Princeton grad, and you will remember the big controversy at Princeton over Buchmanism.
Buchman started recruiting on elite east-coast campuses in 1919. He was on and off the Princeton campus until he got banned, in 1927, for harping on 'sex problems' too much. This did a lot of damage to Buchman's reputation, and made the scandal columns of a lot of newspapers.
But Silkworth had already graduated Princeton by 1919. Still, he must have know about the Groupers, and about the controversy. Yet, in 1935, he did not object when Bill embraced the OG method.
This does NOT, of course, indicate that Silkworth was a Grouper, or even particularly attracted to the Groups himself. He may have been just an open-minded doctor, willing to let his patient go in any direction that seemed to be helpful. Still, there is evidence here of a GENERAL sympathy to a mixture of spirituality and medicine. And Silkworth had been trained at Bellvue, where there was a Rockefeller influence. It would be interesting to know more about Silkworth, his values, and his career. Probably an M.A. thesis in that.
But we must conclude, I think, that Towns Hospital was not an Oxford Group facility, that Oxford Groupers never 'selected' Towns as the place Bill should be treated, and that Bill was not 'oxfordized' at Towns, either. (Meaning he was never 'brain washed').
Wilson was an unhappy man, and a business failure. He came up with an innovative insight at Towns, an insight which mixed doing 'good' with doing 'well.'
But, right from the beginning, Wilson was imagining a chain of FOR PROFIT hospitals. This was anethema to true Oxford Groupers, who regarded Wilson and Lois as 'not maximum', and as 'trying to commercialize' their spiritual movement.
Hence, the Wilsons never were whole-hearted OGs, and they stayed in the movement less than three years, leaving in the summer of 1937.
The Akron crowd was MUCH more OG-oriented than was Wilson. Most of them did not break with Buchman until fall of 1939. Even then, many participated in BOTH movements for some further time.
But not Wilson. His devotion to the OG just never ran that deep.
The hospital in Akron you refer to was St. Thomas's Hospital. No, it did NOT use 'Oxford Group' methods. It was a CATHOLIC hospital, and Catholic's were not allowed to join the Oxford Groups at that time, under pain of ex-communication from the church.
Sister Ignatia (nee, Della Mary Gavin) was quite a case. She was an Irish immigrant, and 45 years old when she began to cooperate with Smith in treating drunks. She herself had suffered a severe mental breakdown a few years earlier, and appear to have been a VERY superstitious and emotional woman.
Sister Ignatia and a doctor at St. Thomas's, Thomas Scuderi, had been treating drunks before Smith arrived to request their assistance. Ironically, part of the treatment they had been employing involved large doses of morphine! (Which, I guess, just might get you past that desire for a drink).
Anyway, Mary Darrah goes into all this in her book, Sister Ignatia, 1992, which I assume you have read.
What needs to be understood is that 'spirituality' was in the air during the Great Depression. It was the solution being offered by all sorts of groups on the political right, for the 'spiritual' approach blamed the Great Depression on the flaws of individuals, and NOT on the politico-economic system.
Catholic reactionaries had come up with their OWN mingling of alcohol problems with spiritual politics, long before the Oxford Groups existed. After all, alcohol is a very old political metaphor in the U.S.
Take a look at, for example, Rev. Daniel A. Lord, 1939, I Can Take It Or Leave It Alone, St. Louis, The Queen's Work.
Lord was Father Dowling's supervisor in St. Louis (Dowling was to become 'Bill's sponsor').
The St. Louis Jesuits were fighting alcohol abuse in their own 'spiritual way' in the 1920s and 1930s. At this time, they were also cheering for General Franco's Army in Spain, describing Mussolini as a friend of the Church, and attacking Cardenas in Mexico for his land-reform and secular government. Of course, the big devil was the U.S.S.R., while these Catholic reactionaries tended to excuse the Nazis as bad, but perhaps necessary to avoid a communist Europe.
Your narrow focus on the Oxford Groups alone, the fact that you haven't even mastered (or at least remembered) the basic AA and OG materials, and your use of the meretricious 'brain washing' idea leads you to make everything simple and mechanical.
But history doesn't work that way. The Oxford Groups wasn't an all-purpose demon, using horrible 'brain washing' methods. There was a LOT of stuff going on in the 1930s. And, on the political right, that 'stuff' was SPIRITUAL stuff.
Oh, by the way, the St. Louis Jesuits, including Dowling, also admired Father [Charles] Coughlin, the Catholic priest who invented right-wing hate radio. (Roosevelt called Coughlin one of the most dangerous men in America, around the time Dowling was praising him).
6 July 2002:
A Nazi can be CONSISTENT, but not authentic.
Authenticity means facing external and social reality HONESTLY, to the best of one's ability. And to act in accord with what one knows.
To be a person of 'good faith' does not mean that you have all the answers. But it does mean trying to understand, including trying to overcome your OWN little lies and easy escapes. You want to face life. You want to know the truth. You see what is there, and say what you mean, and mean what you say.
It helps to work toward 'good faith' with others, and in criticism-self-criticism, so long as this does not degenerate into a lot of narcissistic babble. For good faith means DOING what you believe in, too. You have to put your money - and even more, yourself - where your mouth is.
Look at the life of Malcolm X. Look at his growth. He was open to knowing, and he was changing radically even the day he was killed. He didn't have all the answers, and he made some very large mistakes. But he seems to have been TRYING to be honest. He seems to have been authentic.
Nazis did not do this. None of the fascists did, including none of the American fascists. One reads Hitler's Tabletalk, and one is confronted by lie after lie, some of which Hitler seems even to have come to believe himself. The lies are often minor. Little white fibs. It is as if Hitler had come to be so used to lying, that he could not even describe minor incidents of his childhood without distorting them. Little men tell little lies. But little men can do terrible evils.
To be a fascist, one had to WILL to believe lies. For fascism postulates Supermen and Untermensch. It postulates 'race'. But these are not concepts that can be held if one is open to the world.
It took no genius to discover that Jews were not sub-humans, in the Germany of the 1930s. All you had to do was have the guts to talk to one. The lie of Nazism couldn't last a minute, for any person who honestly confronted the reality of a living Jew.
Nazism was a twisted dream. People CHOSE the dream, over a reality they feared. This was an inauthentic choice. It was 'bad faith'.
But Jews are not a mystically 'chosen people', divinely ordained to take the land of the West Bank from impoverished Palestinians, either, as the Zionist Right's dream would have it. Sadly, as Martin Buber once observed, many Jews learned from Hitler only that it is better 'to do it to the other guy, first'.
Nor do Americans have any right at all to incomes of $30,000 a year, per capita, while many Guatemalan peasants starve on 1/100th of that amount. Any real contact with the poor of the underdeveloped world reveals them to be FULLY human, and fully deserving of an equal share in the world's production. (Divided equally, every single person in the world could receive about $5,000 - plenty to live on.)
Of course, DDDDDD earns triple that average figure, or more - and RRRR probably twice what DDDDDD gets. No wonder they want an unfeeling, inauthentic, neutral scientism. But this 'science' dances to the tune played by the government and the big corporations. And it is a science that mystifies and lies, but ignores the rhinocerus in our living room, our overriding world reality: SOME STARVE, OTHERS ARE OBESE - AND THIS IS IMMORAL!
One of the things Arendt noted about Eichmann was his superficiality. He seemed to be very emotionally controlled. He did not let himself feel freely or honestly. He spoke in stereotyped, 'approved' utterances. He was logical and consistent, if you accepted his premises. But his ideas were trite, superficial, out of touch with reality.
Yet, Eichmann seemed 'happy' in his way. The psychiatrist who examined him described him as having an admirable family life, regular and predictable. He appeared 'well-adjusted'. He would have made a 'pleasant' neighbor. He 'got along'.
Arendt labeled this kind of adaptation to the world 'banality'. To be banal is to live by a superficial code, that limits thoughts and feelings. To be banal and inauthentic is to stay within what Chomsky calls 'the boundaries of thinkable thought', while ignoring what Sartre le ve'cu, 'lived experience'.
People may seek to conform, to escape from freedom. They may use powerful chemicals to help them do this. They may even BEG for Prozac or anti-depressants, when they sense they are getting out of step with the herd. Many have conformity pushed at them by superior authority. Heretics are burned at the stake.
Authenticity does not imply consistency. The world is a confusing jumble, if we are willing to experience it as it is. We struggle to MAKE it consistent, but as soon as we do this, new contradictions appear. Every synthesis becomes a thesis, and generates a new antithesis. The process has no end. Only dogmas have a perfect form. Real human knowledge grows, and is always imperfect.
Staying rooted in reality, striving to know, allowing ourselves to feel, is being authentic.
It is not easy to be human, but humanity is the crown of the universe. George Gaylord Simpson once remarked that in humanity, the evolutionary process has become conscious of itself.
This is an amazing thing. Humans can consciously know, and we are free, in a world of determinism.
To seek to escape from that freedom, to turn our backs on consciousness, is to be inauthentic, to live in bad faith. This is immoral for human beings. It is a sin, not against gods, but against our own nature, our own essence.
8 Jul 2002
> --- "LR" wrote: > > > "There will be future historical revelations about > > Bill's character and > > behavior in recovery that will be interpreted, by > > some, as direct attacks on > > the very foundation of AA." After all that's leaked > > out already, God (and > > AA's insiders) only knows what those could be!!! > > I really resent you people raking St. William over the > coals for being a liar, a cheater and a swindler. > Next you'll be telling me he was a stockbroker and had > a mistress, too. > > Interesting: Certain people say how sad it is that > alcoholics are stigmatized for being alcoholics, then > the SAME people crucify St. William for acting like-- > what else?-- a typical alcoholic. Makes no sense...
I don't believe Wilson was ever actually a 'stockbroker'. He was an investor, a speculator, and a sometimes analyst, but he never had a seat on the NY Stock Exchange, nor even a New York broker's license.
The issue about Wilson's immoral behavior does not have to do with what happened when he was a heavy drinker.
It has to do with how he conducted himself AFTER his 'recovery', and AFTER his founding of AA.
Wilson has been widely portrayed in the media as something akin to a saint. And AA has offered itself as a program which can turn immoral people into moral, 'spiritual' actors.
Yet, the truth is quite different.
Wilson didn't just have one mistress, he was an inveterate womanizer who bragged about his conquests in vulgar terms for many years after the founding of AA.
He was also a corrupt and dishonest business cheat - a criminal, in fact. Not in 1934, when he was still a heavy drinker, but in 1939.
Wilson was much like Jim Bakker, or Jimmy Swaggart. He was a charismatic flim-flam man. He probably believed some of the ideas he floated in the creation of AA, but these ideas did not transform his character.
Jimmy Swaggart probably believes some Christian tenets, too. But it doesn't stop him from living like a millionaire, and cavorting with prostitutes, does it?
8 July 2002:
[a critic commented:]
Mr. Diener confuses me since he often seems to be a Communist and a Fascist in the same message, perhaps that is what is called a 'balanced' perspective.
No comment of mine could be interpreted as 'fascist' by anyone who knows anything about the topic. Your comment reflects lack of knowledge.
'Fascism' - as a generic socio-political phenomenon - can be defined as spiritual, palingenetic, reactionary-modernism, which has reached the stage of political organization.
Protofascism or pre-facism is spiritual, palingenetic, reactionary-modernism, but BEFORE such a movement has become politically organized..
Protofascisms have been very diverse during the last 150 years of Western history, eg, Coughlin's Social Justice movement, the German Wandervogel, various Bundist youth communes in pre-Weimar and Weimar Germany (which provided a model for the British 'therapeutic community' movement), the Italian Futurists, the Jesuit 'Social Order' movement, and on and on.
Hundreds of protofascist movements have been studied. As both George Orwell and Reinhold Niebuhr observed in the late 1930s, the AA/Oxford Group movement is also a protofascist formation. The majority of protofascists formations, it should be noted, never develop into fully-fledged fascism.
Protofascisms often claim to be 'apolitical'. This shows their basic distain for the corrupt parliamentary political haggling one sees in corporate capitalisms. But this 'apolitical' stance, in fact, is evidence of the revolutionary potential of protofascisms, for apolitical cynicism comes mixed with spiritual utopianism.
Protofascism and fascism are not found just on the traditionally-defined 'right'. As Sternhell notes, fascism is 'neither left nor right.' One finds unorthodox 'Marxists', for example, often in amongst the fascists, eg, Sorel, Mussolini.
For a fuller explanation of fascism, and a more careful statement of the definition given above, consult works by George Mosse, Stanley Payne, A. James Gregor, Walter Laqueur, Zeev Sternhell, Mark Neoclaus, Ian Kershaw, Emilio Gentile, Roger Eatwell, Roger Griffin, amongst, of course, many, many others.
A still useful bibliography is, P. Rees, 1984, Fascism and Pre-Fascism in Europe, 1890-1945. Stanley Payne's Fascism: History and Interpretation, 1995, U. of Wisconsin, also has a very extensive bibliography.
To understand the distinction between the communist tradition, and the fascist tradition, see, W. Laqueur's essay, 1995, "Post-fascism, Post-communism," in Partisan Review, July.
While the communist tradition is quite distinct from the fascist tradition, all the 'socialisms-in-one-country' so far observed have reverted to state capitalism after only a brief period of progressive reforms. The difficulty, it seems, lies in the fact that any national state remains trapped in the world system. Under such conditions, the pigs, as Orwell said, soon take control of the farm.
If possible at all, then - and history is for us to make, there are no guarantees about its outcome - 'communism' would appear to be possible only as a WORLD-WIDE form of social organization.
Personally, I am - and have been for 50 years - a materialist, a secularist, a humanist, and an independent political radical.
I consider myself a 'communist', by which I mean that I support massive economic redistribution and political change in order to provide the poor of the Third World with a fair and totally equal share in world production. And I support revolutionary violence, where counter-revolutionary repression makes radical change impossible by any other means.
I was brought up in a working-class family, and myself worked in factories in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as a young man. But my already radical political orientation was changed greatly by living and working in some of the poorest rural regions of Central America.
There, I encountered, and came to respect, hundreds - indeed, thousands - of human beings whose lives are made miserable by American-sponsored political repression and economic exploitation.
But to say this in the abstract is not the same as being in a dirt-floored hut in the mountains of Mesoamerica, a 5-hour-walk away from the nearest road, and watching a Mayan mother grieve over the body of her dead infant son, who had just just succumbed to a starvation-related disease.
It is not the same as interviewing a member of Guatemala's elite Policia Ambulante Militar over a bottle of rum one night, and being told of how he was trained to kill by American experts in genocide.
(This counter-insurgency fighter told me his American instructor assured the class that there are times when it is necessary to use torture, to kill women, and even to murder babies. Such acts are necessary at times, the instructor said, "in order to send a message" ("dejar una promesa," was the exact phrase my informant used).
It is not the same, either, as walking into the plaza of the small pueblo in which you reside, and observing the machine-gunned bodies of Mayan youths, dumped there by La Mano Blanca (a C.I.A.-assisted death-squad organization). Then, upon looking into the faces of the corpses, suddenly realizing that you had been in the hut of one of these young peasants, had talked to him, and had shared a humble plate of tortillas and beans prepared by his now-widowed wife.
That incident occurred in Chiquimula, Guatemala, in August, of 1973. Those young people were killed by order of a local wealthy land-owner, who wished to seize control of a tiny patch of sugarcane. But the U.S., and the local henchmen it supports, have murdered scores of thousands of innocents in Central America since then.
Even Catholic nuns have been raped and murdered, in order, 'to save civilization', to quote the words of George W. Bush - himself a coward, and a draft-dodger during the Vietnam era.
The single, most important fact of our time is that the world is divided into an over-consuming North, and an exploited South.
Over-consumption in the West must be reduced, and the resources freed must be redirected to meet human needs in the poor countries.
If this can not be accomplished peacefully, then it must be accomplished by other means.
Mon, 8 Jul 2002 13:29:11 -0500
[to a critic:]
You end your precis on Churchill's career by coming to a spurious conclusion about the genesis of his published work:
"Most of it [was] achieved while drunk and very little if any while wholly sober."
You offer not a shred of evidence for this claim. Yet you present it as a fact.
The kind of evidence you need to garner is quotations from contemporary observers of Churchill at work - family members, house servants, political associates, journalists who might have had the opportunity to visit Churchill at his home or office, and so on - who gave personal testimony that Churchill completed his published writings while drunk..
A summary from a respected biographer(s) would support your argument, though it would not be as convincing as testimony from direct observers.
We need to have some sort of working definition for 'drunk'. Let's say it equates, for our purposes, with the behavioral signs of drunkeness used in a standard roadside test for drunk driving.
Show me the evidence from contemporary observers that Churchill routinely wrote while so inebriated he could not walk a straight line, or touch his finger to his nose. Indeed, show me ANY evidence that Churchill routinely wrote while drunk, and that this work was subsequently published to acclaim..
Churchill was a heavy drinker. But, like a lot of heavy drinkers, he seems to have been able to schedule his intake of alcohol in such a way as to 'manage' the problem. With many such people, daytime work associates are not even aware that the individual has an alcohol problem, or that he/she routinely gets drunk in the evening.
You have offered an IDEOLOGICAL argument with no evidence.
The ideology you are defending is that of Western consumerism. For you, as for ZZZZZZ, massive overconsumption - drinking oneself blind-eyed, or, in ZZZZZZ's case, eating himself into obesity - is natural, unavoidable, ethically-acceptable, and even productive of creativity.
But Western consumerism is not natural at all. Instead, it is a product of a specific social and economic order.
Massive over-consumption in the West is relatively recent, and is the conscious outcome of government policies aimed at stimulating aggregate effective demand. That is, overconsumption is orchestrated by government, corporations, and the advertising industries, and is meant to encourage the spending of money by people who have it. Demand-stimulation came to dominate Western economic policy only in the 1930s.
But as the rich West spends, the impoverished of the world must go without. For example, fresh vegetables, fresh-cut flowers, fresh fish, and prime cuts of beef are now air-lifted from Guatemala into the American market. The ZZZZZZs of the United States are encouraged to buy these items. But as ZZZZZZ feeds himself into obesity, the poor in Guatemala die of starvation.
Effective demand is NOT the same as human need. The two concepts are very, very different. Effective demand can be generated ONLY where money is possessed, and it exists whether the demand is for items that brings good or ill. One can buy things that hurt.
Some well-off Nigerian students, you tell us, believe it natural and good to get drunk, often. But drunken comportment by some in Nigeria means that grain, which might go to feed hungry Nigerians, is diverted into the alcohol beverage industry instead. You defend this diversion, but many Nigerians angrily contest it. This is a battle which, amongst other things, opposes the interests of rich consumers with poor people..
Consumerism and over-consumption has nothing to do with meeting real human needs. Instead, it has to do mostly with increasing aggregate effective demand, with stimulating a decrepit and deeply troubled world capitalist economy.
To understand the problem, we have to escape the mystifying alcohol metaphor.
Just as the War On Drugs is not really about drugs, so the debate about drunkeness is not really about alcohol at all.
Alcohol is a metaphor which embodies two contradictory facets, two needs, of advanced corporate capitalisms:
1) the need to prime consumer consumption and increase effective demand, and,
2) the need to control and discipline the mass of the population, and force them to conserve and save.
Advanced capitalism suffers BOTH from too little consumer demand, AND from a much too low rate of savings and investment.
In the drunkeness debate, one group of ideologues is proclaiming that 'consumption' is the more key element in Western capitalisms. Such people even laud and/or defend OVER consumption, such as drunkeness and obesity.
An opposed group of ideologues, who also are defending capitalism, see the problem of controlling government spending and increasing the savings rate as more critical. They want to cure the poor of their 'addiction' to welfare programs and to other wasteful behaviors. They want a 'mean and lean' government and society. That want the masses to abstain from consuming..
But these two groups of opposed ideologues are only touching the capitalist elephant in different places.
Capitalism needs BOTH vastly expanded consumerism, AND vastly expanded savingings and investment, in order to correct the very serious problems it now faces.
But, of course, it is impossible to have these two things at one time. One cannot be both drunk with consumption, and a sober saver, simultaneously.
Western consumerism is morally evil and politically unacceptable. To defend and laud excess - even to the point of defending drunkeness and obesity - is to defend the ideology of Western over-consumption.
But neither corporate-liberal consumerism, nor protofascist asceticism, is morally acceptable.
We must meet the real needs of flesh-and-blood human beings, and we must do this over the entire surface of the globe. Each and every person has a moral right to be free from want, and each has an equal claim on the world's wealth and productivity.
Understanding requires that we see through the myth of 'addiction'.
9 July 2002
The Big Book goes into detail on how one needs to apologize to those harmed, make restitution, establish new relationships with one's employer, reformulate domestic life (how hypocritical!), and so on.
As to drinking, this is quite clearly put in its place:
Anyway, most 12-Steppers today do not have, and have never had, a drinking problem. Most enter the movement propelled by other problems and concerns.
And what newcomers seek is what Bill Wilson said they needed: "a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking" (Big Book, p. 50).
It is for this reason that I include the 12-Step movement within the much larger 'Spiritual Revolution' now taking place in America.
You are right that 1950s style AA strayed less far from 'alcohol problems' than has the post-1970 12-Step Movement. This is significant. We need to look at the 12-Step movement, not as having a program set for all time, but rather as a social movement with a lot of capacity for evolution and change. It is a very dynamic phenomenon.
As to advertising, you are half-right. Early AA was puffed by the Ivy Lee firm, and often even the AA members did not know what support they were getting behind the scenes. The whole Cleveland press campaign, for example, remains to be explained.
But AA has always cooperated with the press. And Wilson went around the country on a media trip for AA in the early days, having his picture taken, giving interviews, and using his full name. It was the Rockefeller Men who determined this must end, just as it was they who decided 'money will only spoil this thing'.
Since the 1980s, AA has accepted public declarations by its members without chastising the celebrities involved.
AA has never chastised Betty Ford, or describe her headline-seeking behavior as out of place, for example.
Nan Robertson talks about the change in policy in her book. She quotes Lois Wilson as saying that 'anonymity' was always only a tactical measure, and was now no longer necessary. Hazelden, of course, URGES its more well-known clients to go public, 'in order to help those still suffering'.
I wish you could step back from your deep emotional commitment to AA. I don't think unless you can honestly question your own attachment to the movement, and investigate how this attachment serves you in your own life, you will ever see clearly on these matters.
I am not saying, of course, that I am an unbiased person. I have my biases, too, and I believe they limit my insights in important areas. I just don't think my blinders are on when it comes to AA.
Thu, 11 Jul 2002
The myth of Bill Wilson is very well developed in American culture.
A few years ago, a made-for-TV movie focused upon Wilson's life. It aped the hagiography AA itself has published, and an even more dishonest book by an academic hack who gets his royalties from Hazelden.
That movie is now on video/dvd, and can be found in most movie rental stores in the U.S. My local Blockbuster carries it, for example.
In some treatment facilities, I have been told, clients are instructed to watch this movie so as 'to give them hope'. At a local community college, which offers paraprofessional training in 'addiction counselling', the movie is shown to some introductory classes, in conjunction with lectures on 12-Step treatment and voluntary groups.
Popular myths of this sort are important. And, when the myths are lies, and are dangerous, exposing them is important, too.
Noam Chomsky has remarked that 'the new mandarins' of American academia never question the myths of the powerful. To do so would annoy those who pay them.
This is willed ignorance.
Thu, 11 Jul 2002 21:32:26 -0500
[To a critic:]
There is one key question, and we need to keep the focus on it:
You say alcohol and drug problems are real. (The first President Bush, asked to name three major problems facing the U.S., responded, "Drugs, drugs and drugs.")
I disagree with you, and Bush, senior.
I say alcohol and drug problems, as they have been presented, are largely unreal. These 'problems' are myths and POLITICAL SYMBOLS. They have been used to fuel a vast moral panic, a symbolic crusade. Many on the right (eg, Szasz, Peele), and many on the left (Breggin, Chomsky) agree with me.
I want to expose the myths, and dig into the roots of this widespread moral panic. I want to understand why this vast social deception and propaganda effort is taking place. I want to look at the issue comparatively and historically.
You, on the other hand, do funded research on alcohol and drug problems, assuming the myths to be real, e.g. the 'vast threat' of drunk driving..
Yes, I am quite aware you tweak the 'addiction' concept a bit. That is hardly important. There were major differences between German biologists, and Italian political scientists, too, over how social 'degeneration' develops.
The Germans tended to think in medical, biological, genetic, and neurological terms. They thought the problems were caused by the physical organism, the brain, and the 'blood'.
Italians, like Giovanni Gentile, the Minister of Education and a highly respected international intellectual in the 1920s, scoffed at the Germans. Degenerates were not biologically different, he said. They were merely the products of bad cultural upbringing. They could be changed by government action, and by educational reform. Your thought is more like this.
These debates were acrimonious, and the disagreement sometimes quite significant.
Still, these two streams of quite different thought both formed part of the protofascist-fascist tradition.
This tradition leads to a misplaced revolution. It does this by focusing on INDIVIDUAL problems, and not SOCIAL contradictions.
Instead of changing society to meet the needs of men and women, displaced revolutions seek to change men and women in order to save a failing socio-economic system. This is what 'spiritual revolution' is all about.
It matters greatly where you see the crux of the problem: in the PERSON, or in the SYSTEM.
You see 'alcohol and drug problems' as manifesting themselves in the individual, though, like Giovanni Gentile, you believe government can intervene and chastise, or educate, individuals to do better. You see, for example, the flaw as mostly in the individual drivers.
I say this is nonsense. You must go to the root of the problem. And the root of the problems facing Western societies has to do with vast, systemic contradictions that are simply hidden from view by the 'alcohol and drug' mythology. I am unwilling to exaggerate the role of 'drunk driving'; I insist that the entire locational-transport system must be the focus.
On political philosophy, suffice here to say that individual freedom vs. system influence is not so nettled a problem as you think. The key is to give up the idea of social CAUSES, and switch to the idea of social CONSTRAINTS.
'Constraint' here is used the way the concept is applied in mathematics, or in dynamic systems engineering.
The river is CONSTRAINED by the banks, but it moves according to fluid dynamics within those boundary conditions.
An animal is free to move within its cage, but the cage bars CONSTRAIN its movement.
As Michael Polanyi notes, constraints can be INTERNAL. A gasoline engine, for example, routes and channels the flow of energy through itself. The design of the engine's structure are 'control constraints' which guide the energy, allowing useful work to be done.
Internal constraints or 'boundary conditions' can be symbolic, instead of material. A gas engine routes energy through its material constraint structure. But a computer program routes information by reference to information-constraints, ie, program rules.
Linguists distinguish 'grammar' from 'speech'. Grammar is the set of rules that constrain what you say. You are free to utter an unlimited, and wholly unpredictable, number of sentences. But only grammatical utterances will be understood. (Note for those with no linguistic training, 'grammar' to the linguist does NOT mean PRESCRIPTIVE 'grammar', ala the grammarian.)
Speech acts form an unlimited, but bounded or constrained, set. You are free to say more things than the universe has atoms (many more, actually), but only if you stay within the boundary conditions can you communicate.
Now, in our behavior, we are also free, but constrained. We are constrained by internalized rules of moral behavior that exist in our heads. We create these rules, just as we each create the grammar which guides our speech acts.
We use social input to help us create our individual behavioral constraint rules, but we each are able to test and challenge and reformulate these constraints, too, when contradictions arise.
It is in this constant process of real living, of information exchange, of creativity, and, sometimes, of willed repression, that a human life is lived. (And not 'determined' by our dopamine level!)
We are BOTH free, AND constrained. But - and this is a big 'but' - we are always able to revise our constraint system. We can change our moral outlook, our code of ethics, our 'program for action'.
When crisis arises, when contradiction leads us into 'fear and trembling', we overthrow the rules in our minds and think in new ways. We are 'converted' to a new 'program for living'.
"Saul becomes Paul."
The process, and the informational dynamics that underlie it, can be theorized without the problems you think might be necessary. In fact, Chomsky, and others, have already done this.
As to what will happen 'after the revolution', I have no idea. Anyway, I don't have so many years of life left. I criticize what I see as dishonest and false today. I leave it for the young to build the future.
Finally, it doesn't bother me that my left critique sometimes resembles the critiques of those on the libertarian right. Remember, it was the conservatives who made the only real attempts to assassinate Hitler.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend," goes an Arab saying. And Churchill once remarked that he would join forces with the devil himself, to beat the Nazis. If Churchill could ally with the U.S.S.R., and vice versa, then I should not be embarassed to quote Szasz from time to time.
Mon, 15 Jul 2002
The state's special role comes from the fact that it defines itself in terms of 'exclusive use of legitimate force.'
Bribes are somewhat more effective than force. But globally, states are facing fiscal crises. The welfare-state's bribery simply is no longer a viable option. Everywhere, welfare states are collapsing.
Hence, across the globe, we see a shift to coercive techniques of social control - including coerced indoctrination. Can this be reversed?
Orwell longed for a world of equality, justice and brotherhood. But, disappointed in his mature years, he grew pessimistic.
In Orwell's novel, 1984, Winston is interrogated by the state's inquisitor. Winston tells the inquisitor that he disobeyed the rules because he wanted to bring about a better future.
The inquisitor laughs:
"The future," says the inquisitor, "is a boot stomping down on a human face... forever."
Like Orwell, I hope for a better, and more equal, world. But I am afraid humanity could face the boot in the face, forever.
Wed, 7 Aug 2002
[to another critic:]
"War brought the feds to Berkeley, just as it did to Ann Arbor. And the Cold War kept them there. The enormous expenditure on defense technology of the 1950s and 1960s bred a near-dependence on Uncle Sam.... By 1964, 58 percent of the University of California's research expenditures came from federal grants, contracts, and appropriations, [and] research money wasn't the half of it."
I was located across the Bay in the 1960s, but got over to Berkeley from time to time. Berkeley 'New Left' grad students were, overwhelmingly, phony draft-dodgers. Loud-mouthed, middle-class phonies. Today, they hold comfortable corporate and government jobs. Their Strurm und Drang was moral hypocrisy.
Whatever income you enjoyed as a student in the 60s, you were amongst a privileged elite of the young people in the U.S. at that time. Any student at an elite university was. Anyway, the paychecks started coming soon enough, no?
People in the developed countries believe, overwhelmingly, that they have a moral RIGHT to live in obese luxury, while billions of human beings live in unspeakable misery, and starve on incomes of $500 a YEAR, or less.
But there is no such moral right, and no such 'biological imperative'. The ZZZZZZs of the United States can eat themselves into obesity, while Guatemalans starve, only because of POWER.
And 'objective' scientists, such as yourself, earn incomes of $100,000 a year, or more, while Guatemalans sweat to earn $200 or $300, for the same reason: POWER.
This unjust MATERIAL disparity is historical, and is maintained by FORCE.
As we slip into deepening global economic crisis, a great escalation of force will be needed to maintain the economic disparity between rich and the poor.
And force always requires its justifying myths.
Hence, the myth of 'addiction' has been created. The goal is to make the many - both domestically and internationally - 'powerless', while putting control of a new world economy in the hands of 'higher powers'.
The myth of 'addiction' has not been created out of whole cloth. Its cultural roots are to be found in the 'spiritual diseases' invented in an earlier era. The evidence is clear on this, and it exists in many, many works of unquestioned scholarly competence - works that people like ZZZZZZ have sworn never to read. ("I am not now, and I have never been, one who will question the underlying corporate-government 'addiction' myth.").
Perhaps, as you point out, not even three guys could be found in the United States who would agree with my views.
(While traveling and living in Latin America over the years, I have made contact with a great many who DO share my general perspective, as do most of the 40,000 armed 'enemy' that the U.S. Drug War now combats in Colombia. But Latin Americans tend to think differently about such issues from North Americans - or from Swedes.)
I am unconcerned by this lack of popularity of my opinions in the U.S., or on Addict-L.
I have no intention of 'selling' my opinions in the 'marketplace of ideas'. Hence, I have no need to cut my conscience to fit this year's Berkeley fashions. I can call them like I see them, and speak the truth about power.
Wed, 7 Aug 2002
Amongst others, DXXXXXX has suggested that 'spirituality' may be defined without positing any 'spiritual' ontological reality. That is, 'spirituality' may be conceived of in PSYCHOLOGICAL terms.
But a word has to be taken to mean what speakers of a language SAY it means. We have to accept the definition of 'spirituality' in the U.S. that Americans give to that word.
A national representative survey by the Gallup organization throws light on these matters (G. Gallup, Jr. and Timothy Jones, 2000, The Next American Spirituality, Colorado Springs: Victor).
Gallup's polling data shows a culture change
of 'seismic proportions' (p. 25).
The nation now sees itself, Gallup says, "battered by a crisis not so much of politics or education as of soul" (p. 18).
Respondents who say they feel a need for 'spiritual growth' surged in the late 1990s, up 24 points in just 4 years, to 80%. For the first time in history, 'ethics, morality and family values' are now the NUMBER ONE concern expressed by Americans (with the crimes of the immoral running a close second). Material factors fall far behind on the list. (p. 31)
Deep worries about alcohol, drugs and child abuse have fueled this moral revolution, says Gallup (p. 32). A feature of this Spiritual Revolution is a deep cynicism about 'politics as usual'; people feel 'betrayed by politicians' (p. 32). Are the times ripe for a great 'spiritual leader', who will transform and purify the American political system. Not yet, perhaps.... but wait.
"When addictions leave people feeling helpless," Gallup remarks, "it is no accident they turn to a Higher Power" (p. 35) But POLITICAL helplessness in the face of economic collapse and the new 'terror' threat, may lead to a search for a political Higher Power, too.
When asked what 'spirituality' meant, 2/3s referred explicitly to a supernatural 'other' - most of them to the Judeo-Christian God. (But, of these, over 20% also believed in astrology, and over 28% in reincarnation). (Pps. 49, 58).
Of the third who stated that 'spirituality' was 'internal', many expressed gnostic beliefs, such as a belief in 'a god within', a 'divine spark in all of us', and so on. The idea of spirituality is virutally never expressed in terms of MATERIALISTIC concepts drawn from psychology; there is virtually always a mystical, occultic component to this concept. (p. 49).
Over 40% of Americans now participate in small groups of some sort, and the majority say that one reason for participation is the 'solace of a healing environment'. 2/3s of respondents said they had prayed in the last 24-hours.
72% of Americans said 'spirituality' was NOT primarily to be found in organized religion. (p. 50).
Americans are a deeply unhappy people. The American Index of Social Health, which has tracked expressed well-being for 25 years, has fallen an amazing 52% from the level it enjoyed in 1973. (p. 69).
47% of Americans now describe themselves as 'born-again' or evangelical Christians; this figure has been exploding in recent decades. (p. 80).
If spiritual explanations and scientific explanations contradict each other, 62 % of Americans say they prefer spiritual explanations. (p. 82).
When Americans pray, 95% pray to a supreme spiritual being. Only 2% pray to a cosmic force, the inner self, or a god within - more evidence that Americans DO see 'spirituality' as entailing a ontological spiritual realm (p. 83).
Many Americans decry the "soul-deadening malaise of materialism," says Gallup (p. 91).
An amazing 16 % of respondents say that they felt very lonely in the last 24-hours!
22% say they feel despair!
61% say that religion can solve all, or most, problems in the United States.
(all in the Index tabulation of survey responses)
Gallup quotes Martin Marty, who remarks:
"... spirituality increasingly finds its home in management seminars and corporate policy and practice." (p. 74).
In fact, it has been a massive government- and corporate-sponsored Symbolic Crusade, I would argue, that has shaped popular opinion in this way.
People like ZZZZZZ argue that the War On Drugs has failed. Hardly. The War On Drugs has created a phantom evil, and a 'spiritual' solution for that evil. The War On Drugs, and the 'addiction' myth, has been one of the prime movers in shaping the Spiritual Revolution in America.
Thu, 22 Aug 2002
It is exceedingly odd to read about the history of 'weakness of the will', and 'loss of self control', in the 19th and early 20th centuries, with the focus placed very narrowly upon DRINKING behavior, and drinking behavior only.
One of the most commonly diagnosed medical diseases of the 19th century, for example, was 'neurasthenia' (Gr., 'neuron', nerve + 'asthenia', lacking power). The condition was diagnosed by alienists ('mad-doctors', psychiatrists), neurologists, family practitioners, and others. The assumption was that observed behavioral deviancies - from insanity, to insomnia, to dipsomania - eminated from organic defects in the brain, or in the vast network of nerves branching from it. A primary result was weakness of the will.
A plethora of causes were thought to contribute to neurasthenia. Amongst these were a whole range of 'poisons' - in foods, in drugs, in beverage alcohol (if taken in excess, or, for some, if taken at all), in the environment, etc. Poisons were thought to damage 'nervous tissue', initiating a vicious cycle. Thus, once suffered, neurasthenia showed itself as a 'weakness of the will', amongst other symptoms. But, with will so weakened, the individual had less power to avoid exposure to poisons in the future. To take alcohol consumption as an example, drinking could 'poison' nerve tissue, weaken the will, and thus make future drinking episodes even more likely and more problematic.
'Poisons', however, were never viewed as the only cause of neurasthenia, nor was alcohol ever considered the only 'nerve poison'. Some behaviors - like masturbation - were also thought to have a damaging effect on nervous tissue. And some environments were viewed as hazardous for the human nervous system. Urban living, for example, due to a whole range of factors, was thought to impact nervous tissue in a highly detrimental way. This seemed to account for the crime and social deviancy associated with city life. Heredity was also thought to contribute to cases of neurasthenia.
An American physician, George M. Beard, was one of the most tireless publicists of 'neurasthenia' in the 19th century, but the 'disease' became central to medical thinking on both sides of the Atlantic.
Another, related condition drew even greater attention as the century wore on. This was 'degeneration', "one of the most important generic clinical diseases of the nineteenth century" (S. Gilman, 1985, "Political Theory and Degeneration," in Degeneration: The Dark Side of Progress. Ed. by J. Chamberlin and S. Gilman, Columbia U. Press, p. 165).
In effect, 'neurasthenia' came to be subsumed as an early, and INDIVIDUAL, manifestation of 'degeneration', which was then conceived of as a broader, overall affliction, progressive in nature, which effected not just individuals, but hereditary lineages, social groups, and even entire nations.
A French psychiatrist, Benedict-Augustin Morel, published the first medical text on 'degeneration' in 1857 (the same year, significantly, in which Baudelaire published Les Fleurs du mal). "Much of the book centers on what Morel called intoxicants and allied products, and these discussions have a strong chemical tinge.... Alcoholism received the main attention" (E. Carlson, 1985, "Medicine and Degeneration," in Chamberlin and Gilman, p. 121).
Morel was a Lamarckian, and his formulation of 'degeneracy' emphasized environmental factors. As with neurasthenia, we find 'poisons' listed as causal agents. But exposure to alcohol, opium, hashish, and tobacco could, Morel thought, damage not only nerve tissue, but the 'reproductive fluids', too. Hence, 'degeneracy' would 'progress' and worsen, not only in the individual, but in whole lineages, ever worsening if not corrected. Degeneracy, Morel thought, was a 'family disease'.
Not only psychoactive substances caused degeneracy, in Morel's view. Some minerals were nerve and reproductive-fluid poisons, too (lead, copper, phosphorus, mercury, arsenic). Also, some physical environments had a deleterious impact on the human organism (marshlands, hot climates), which explained, among other things, the degenerated state of the negro race. And some social environments caused degeneration (eg, cities, isolated rural regions), leading to the degradation of the proletariat, and the backwardness of the peasantry.
Diets based on 'degraded' foods could cause degeneracy (eg, ergotism). Other diseases and injuries might cause damage to the nerve and reproductive tissues, leading to the condition. And some behaviors could degenerate the nervous and reproductive tissue (eg, sexual impurity).
Alcoholic excess was thus considered one - but ONLY one - important cause/symptom of degeneracy:
"Dipsomania became a popular term in the nineteenth century and illustrated the spreading view that drunkeness was not wilful, but an illness, a particular form of mania.... Morel considered alcoholism a degenerative state and many who came after him agreed" (Carlson, op cit, p. 130).
Beard, Morel, and other early theorists of neurasthenia and degeneracy worried about the impact these diseases had on the social body, but they remained confident that medical and public-health measures could arrest the maladies. But, as the 19th century wore on, hopes for 'progress' dimmed, and, concommitantly, medical visions took a darker turn.
The 19th century in Europe can be classified into two, very broad periods. The first half of the century was marked by unprecedented economic growth, beginning in England but then spreading to the continent. However, in the 1840s, a confusing pause to growth occurred, a pause that was accompanied by ever-increasing signs of social turmoil and urban restiveness. Growth then resumed briefly in the 1850s. But, soon, came the so-called Great Depression of the Victorian Era, initiating "slow growth and even deceleration from the 1870s to 1913" (F. Crouzet, 1982, The Victorian Economy, Columbia U. Press, p. 53).
Moreover, even as many economies stumbled in the second half of the 19th century, the European bourgeoisie was shocked by violent episodes of resistance from the 'underclasses', both domestic and foreign (eg, the Paris Commune, the Great Indian Mutiny of 1857, etc.). The stumbling economy, and the rise of 'terrorism' at home and abroad, shook to its foundations bourgeois confidence in Inevitable Progress. Now, it seemed, history could move downward, too, into the mire and muck of a 'degenerate condition'.
Eugene Talbot's Degeneracy: Its Causes, Signs, and Results (1898, London, Walter Cott) became paradigmatic for this more hopeless vision of the medical condition of society which was embraced at the end of the Victorian Era. Not Lamarckian enviromentalism, now, but Social Darwinistic 'racial science' undergirded the idea. Nancy Stepan (1985, "Races and Proper Places," in Chamberlin and Gilman, p. 112-113) puts it this way:
"In Talbot's formula, even an apparently healthy and wholesome individual could be harboring, unknowingly, a degenerate condition. Degeneracy in this sense was a pervasive, social decay of the individual and the group... Talbot himself expressed some concern that no discipline or reform could eliminate the congenital criminal class, the sexual perverts, or the constitutional prostitutes. The Lamarckian model of biological and social inheritance, which allowed for the environmental reform of individual heredity, was beginning to lose favor."
This same pessimism permeated the work of William Hirsch (1896, Genius and Degeneration: A Psychological Study, NY, Appleton), and that of the enormously influential German-Jewish physician, Max Nordau (1896, Degeneration):
George Mosse remarks, regarding Nordau:
"Nordau was a doctor and looked at the challenges to contemporary society through a physician's eyes.... Nordau voiced a majority opinion when he saw degeneration exemplified by the cities and their industrial proletariat.... The conflict... at the fin de siecle was conceived as a struggle to preserve society's norms and thus to protect the normal against the abnormal.... The term degeneration had been coined in 1857 in order to characterize those whose nerves had been shattered by poison like alcohol and opium, through inherited bodily malfunctions, but also by their social milieu and moral debility." (G. Mosse, 1993, "Max Nordau," in Confronting the Nation, U. Press of New England, p. 162 ff., see also J. Oppenheim's excellent, Shattered Nerves: Doctors, Patients, and Depression in Victorian England, 1991, Oxford, esp. the chapter on 'Nervous Degeneration').
For the disease of degeneration, Nordau believed that "police action would do no good, nor the threats of the philistines; presumbably only true personal regeneration would help" (Mosse, op cit).
It is highly ironic, as Mosse notes, the a liberal, German-Jewish physician, Nordau, became one of the most influential proselytizers of neo-fascist ideas at the end of the 19th century. For Nordau argued that degeneration was a physical disease for which only a 'spiritual treatment' would suffice. For Jews, whom Nordau believed suffered more than others from a weakness of will, physical exercise, spiritual discipline, healthy diet, and escape from urban living were all essential. Nordau became an exponent of Zionism, and of a New Jew, to be created in a new, rural Israel. "A new type of Jew must be created," Mosse tells us Nordau believed, "who could end the threat of decadence among the Jews."
But 'spiritual recovery' from neurasthenia and degeneracy did not come first and foremost amongst Jews. Instead, 'spiritual recovery' from 'degeneration' was most forcefully advanced in the early 19th century by protofascists and fascists in France, Italy and Germany. In was here that 'spiritual recovery' from materialism, individualism, and degenerate behavior was first accomplished by joining together in spiritual fellowship, bound one to another by irrational myth. Degeneracy was cured by a Triumph of the Will.
Sorel, in Reflections on Violence, argued that personal recovery and national salvation could only be accomplished through an irrational, spiritual, and total dedication to the group and its myths - a dedication that would inevitably lead to violence, combat, and conquest by the 'spiritually superior'. Nietzsche, too, saw the Ubermensch arising, like a phoenix, out of the ashes of degenerate society, powered by complete dedication to mythic belief. Arthur de Gobineau also argued that group loyalty must come before individual calculation, if degeneration was to be overcome. Gogineau added that the health of the many might require that the 'diseased' perish:
"Societies perish because they are degenerate.... The word degenerate, when applied to a people, means (as it ought to mean) that the people has no longer the same intrinsic value as it had before" (1915, The Inequality of Human Races, p. 24).
The degenerate can infect the healthy, not only through biological, but also through cultural, pollution. The healthy have a right to protect themselves through vigorous public health policies. This might include interning the polluted in a domestic context, or even invading a foreign source of international pollution. "Racism, Fascism and Nazism would carry degeneracy theory into the twentieth century" (S. Gilman, op cit, p. 190).
(It is of interest that the U.S. has invaded Colombia, claiming as justification a need to clean that nation of drug pollution. Recently, too, Attorney General Ashcroft has apparently raised the prospect of concentration camps for American citizens who qualify as 'enemy combatants'. No trial would be required, nor even a formal charge; mere government accusation would suffice for indefinite internment. It may take until after the next - and, I surmise, worse - 'terrorist incident', but I believe such a system of internal concentration camps is inevitable for the United States in the not-distant future).
For several decades after WW II, Americans bathed in the luxury of progress and affluence. But the economic crisis of the early 1970s initiated a long-term secular decline in the global economy. For over three decades now, the world has been trapped in a sickening malaise.
Many Americans simply do not realize - or do not care - to what degree the third world has suffered economic per-capita decline in recent years. Instead of understanding the horrendous conditions that now prevail over much of the globe, creating hundreds of millions of desperate people, the comfortable bourgeoisie of the industrialized countries prefers to see the rest of humanity as 'diseased'.
Today's 'alcoholism' and 'addiction' - and you can add 'terrorism' to the list, though the medicalization of this concept is not yet complete - are reformulations of older ideas, like 'neurasthenia' and 'degeneracy'.
And, like those older ideas, these concepts, too, are generative metaphors used, not to explain, but to deceive. The 'War on Drugs/Terrorism' hides from us the material realities which underlie present day conflicts. And these have very little to do with 'drugs' or 'terrorism'.
6 Nov 2002
'Addiction' professionals are not paid by common people. Instead, they are paid by governments and corporations (often to do things TO common people).
Hence, 'addiction' professionals have little interest in the economic struggles of the common person. Instead, like ZZZZZZ, most 'addiction' professionals embrace economic Pollyanna-myths. America, and the world, they say, is filled with opportunity, and things are getting better. (Ergo, 'addicts' do not HAVE problems, they ARE the problem.)
By subscribing to reactionary economic myths, ZZZZZZ and other 'addiction' professionals reveal themselves as ideologues, uninterested in empirical fact.
I will continue posting some fundamental facts about the long-term economic crisis, in the U.S. and in the world. My goal is to contrast economic FACTS with the mythology of the 'addiction' reactionaries.
A useful, well-documented source is Jeffrey Madrick, 1995, The End of Affluence: The Causes and Consequences of America's Economic Dilemma, Random House.
Madrick's perspective on the American economy is historically deep.
Economic historians believe that, even by the middle colonial period, per capita incomes in North America exceeded those of England. By the time of the Revolutionary War, for example, revolutionary soldiers averaged several inches taller than their English counterparts, due to the better diets made possible on American incomes. From a whole variety of sources, economic historians calculate that North America has, for centuries, been especially economically blessed.
Madrick notes several reasons for the superior performance of the American economy. First, the U.S. enjoyed a rich resource base, including a vast continental expanse of land (after dispossessing Native Americans and Mexico).
Second, as the American population moved west, the world's largest free- trade zone was created. This generated enormous domestic aggregate demand. Aggregate demand grew apace with the astounding population increase and territorial spread of the American nation.
Third, before the Civil War, America's internal market, with its huge aggregate demand, was protected by oceans and distance (ie, transport costs) from foreign competition. Post-bellum, as transport costs began to come down rapidly, the U.S. instituted a very high protective tariff.
Fourth, the population flow westward, and the massive increase in aggregate demand through time, fomented a chronic labor shortage at the same time as it promised significant profit to new production. Entrepreneurs responded to high demand in an environment of tight labor supply with large capital investments, and with openness to technological improvements. Yankees gained a reputation, worldwide, as 'practical minded', 'profit oriented', 'technologically innovative', even crassly materialistic. Yankees were 'can do'. And the American economy DID do, for several hundred years.
In the 1900s, for example, real wages rose by about 1% per year over the entire century, a pattern which continued and accelerated for the first two- thirds of the 20th century. These real wage increases were based on a remarkably consistent long-term expansion of the GDP.
Only in the late 1960s/early 1970s did the economy falter. Thus: "[There has been] a sharp slowdown in economic growth from our historical average of about 3.4% a year, and often higher, since the Civil War to little more than 2 percent a year since 1973."
(The growth spurt at the end of the 1990s did not change this pattern, since the 1990s opened with a recession, and the U.S. was again in recession in 2000.)
Some reactionaries, like Jimmy Carter in his famous 'malaise' speech, have argued that the immediate post-WW II decades were unusual, and that those economic good times were bound to pass. Americans must now accept inevitable 'reality', they say, and adapt to an Age of Declining Expectations.
But the 1948-1973 period produced real growth of just under 4% per year. Since 1820, the American economy averaged real growth of around 3.7%. And in the 1870-1910 period, growth was around 4% per year, above that of the 1948-1973 period.
Hence, "It was not the first two post-World War II decades, then, that were especially unusual compared with our historical record, it was the two decades of slow growth that began in 1973." (p. 13.)
(Symptoms of economic difficulty begin to appear even before the growth slowdown, ie, by the Kennedy recession of the early 1960s, and slow growth has continued up to the present - diener).
What is involved here is a fundamental, PLANNED restructuring of the American political economy, not an 'inevitable' economic slowdown.
After WW II, the U.S. became the center of a FREE WORLD EMPIRE, a vast political-economic unit that embraced more than half the globe. American corporate and government leaders began to think in terms of IMPERIAL interests, and not just in terms of American domestic interests. Hence, capital investment flowed out of the domestic U.S., to less stable, low- wage parts of the empire. These areas were also given free access to the American domestic market. This helped stabilize politically unstable regions of the empire. It also helped earn profits for international corporations.
But as the rate of capital investment in the U.S. fell, and imports surged, two predictable results followed:
1) Productivity growth in the U.S. slowed. Faltering domestic productivity reflects the decimation of the U.S. industrial base, which in turn results from declining capital investment (7-8% of GDP in the 1950s; under 3% of GDP by early 1990s, p. 80).
Scarce resources are invested in OTHER regions of the New World Order, where the higher powers believe they are more needed to promote imperial stability, and also where they often earn better profits.
2) Imports surged as America's domestic industrial base withered and as wages fell, but as consumer demand fell less quickly.
From the 1890s through the early 1960s, the U.S. enjoyed a constant trade surplus. After WW II, the U.S. was the world's largest creditor nation. It is now the world's largest debtor nation, by far.
The change began around 1970, when the U.S. began to run ever-increasing trade deficits. The merchandise trade deficit grew from $1.5 billion in 1971, to $30 billion in 1978, to $150 billion in 1987, to more than double that number by the mid-1990s (p. 70-71).
This pattern continues, and shows no sign of abating — though, of course, eventually credit WILL run out.
The inevitable result of all these cumulative economic trends has been an on-going collapse in American living standards. For this collapse, there are no answers: it WILL continue, and accelerate.
The U.S. resource base (eg, oil) no longer provides for American needs. And the contained domestic market U.S. producers once enjoyed is gone forever: the New World Order is here to stay.
The result has been economic misery, which will only get worse.
For example, looking at the 25-35 year-old age-cohort, we note that this group was earning a full 25% LESS in real wages in the early 1990s than the same cohort earned in the early 1970s (p. 135). On average, real, non-supervisory wages overall have fallen only a bit less than 1% per year now for over three decades. Minorities and low-income groups have been hit particularly hard. This has never happened before in America.
Americans are taught hard work brings material reward. But American lives show this is not true. Average Americans are raised on the American Dream, but many live an American Nightmare:
"The results are repeated disappointment in our personal lives, waning confidence in long-standing institutions, and rising cynicism in our public life...." (p. 4).
Reactionaries, like ZZZZZZ - who often hold equities in international corporations - deny the economic crisis that impacts less fortunate citizens.
ZZZZZZ offers what Madrick calls a 'fantasy of political escapism'. That is, ZZZZZZ suggests that if 'addicts' just enter 'recovery', then economic benefits are easy at hand.
"[T]he belief that all we have to do is behave morally," says Madrick, describing these myths. "Such nonsense reflects the ambitions of cynical and timid politicians afraid to tell the truth and the wishful thinking of a fearful, angry electorate" (p. 156).
"As our old values have become increasingly undependable, many Americans have looked elsewhere for stable ground: personal fitness, psychotherapies of various sorts, exotic religions... " (p. 130).
ZZZZZZ's 'addiction' mythology, with its bio-racist assumptions, is a particularly nasty version of a psychotherapeutic 'exotic religion'. There is no such thing as 'addiction' - though ZZZZZZ tells us even 'unemployment addiction' exists, and that the unemployed are 'addicts' who could be 'treated' for their 'disease'.
Instead, people face REAL problems, which are rooted in the real facts of economic, social, and political life.
'Addiction' mythology cannot solve real problems. But it can deflect anger, away from the elites who fund 'addiction' research, and onto the persons who get labeled 'addicts'.
The pattern has been seen before, and the historical origin of the 'addiction' myth is clear enough (though intellectual and cultural evidence is another body of data ZZZZZZ brags he will totally avoid, along with basic economic research).
Modern, medicalized 'purity crusades' have often emerged as elements in 'reactionary revolutions'. This is the case in America today.
20 Nov 2002
I have two pieces of data for you which relate to AA's origins.
1) As you know, a book that was read, and much admired, by virtually all the early AAs was the 'spiritual' bestseller, The Fool Hath Said, 1936, by Mr. Beverley Nichols. Bill Wilson's copy of this book is still in the library at Stepping Stones, or so I have read.
Nichols was associated with Buchman's Oxford Group, as were, in 1936, Wilson, Smith, and many others of those who LATER formed AA. (NOT in 1935! That date is a lie.)
The interesting point, though, is that Beverley Nichols was associated with ANOTHER group at this very same time.
In the mid-1930s, Nichols was collaborating with Sir Oswald Mosley, and his British Union of Fascists. Around the time he wrote his 'spiritual' best-seller, so beloved by the early A.A.'s, Nichols was writing other 'spiritual' pieces - which were published in the B.U.F. press. (This would make a wonderful M.S. thesis topic, if we actually had academics with any guts - which, sadly, we do not.)
The source for this information is:
2) There is another interesting piece of information in the same article.
As you know, Dick B., in his Design For Living: The Oxford Group's Contribution to Early AA (2nd Ed, 1999), provides overwhelming proof of the immense role Oxford Group ideas, methods, and strategies played in early AA. It is not too extreme to say AA was an outgrowth of the OG, a small sectarian splinter group that began to form between 1937 (when the New Yorkers left the OG) and late 1939 (when most, but not all, of the Akronites left the OG).
In 1936, though, those who would later found AA were virtually all Oxford Groupers. Like many other OGs, they had a special interest in alcohol problems.
And, in 1936, too, the leader of the Oxford Groups gave a press interview, in which he said that 'Adolf Hitler was sent by God to save the world from communism.' (Bill Wilson, by best evidence, was present at the press conference, and was certainly an OG member, when Buchman praised Hitler. Wilson did not leave the groups at that time, and he never criticized this remark by Buchman, so far as I know).
Now, many have discounted this comment by the OG leader in 1936. They claim Buchman just made a slip of the tongue, didn't really mean it, was naive, etc.
But Oxford Groupers were NOT naive about fascism. Buchman himself had been visiting NSDAP members, and fellow-travellers, in Bavaria, since the early 1920s, as Garth Lean's biography of Buchman shows.
The above you already know. (I recounted it for those on this service who might not know these facts). But here is a piece of evidence that may be new to you.
You will remember that Peter Howard was Buchman's long-time, younger assistant. After Buchman's death, it was Howard who took over the OG, by then re-named Moral Re-Armament.
Howard was an upper-class Englishman, Oxford University graduate, and an Oxford and all-England rugby captain. Naturally, Howard was drawn to Buchman and his movement, for he was deeply enamored of spirituality.... AND fascism.
Howard served under Oswald Mosley in the early 1930s, when Mosley was organizing his New Youth Movement (sort of an imitation of the HitlerJugend). Howard rose to secretary of the NYM.
As the the Great Depression deepened, the conflict between fascists and workers turned violent. It was Howard who played a key role in organizing the 'Defense Force', a group of young toughs who protected Mosley at his public speeches. (The model, it seems, might have been the S.S. in Germany, which protected Hitler at HIS speeches).
In 1931, Howard, the rough-and-ready rugby player who idolized BOTH Buchman and Mosley for their 'spiritual' programs, was in the middle of a violent brawl in Birmingham. While defending Mosley and other British Union of Fascist leaders, Howard had his temple badly lacerated.
This information is on p. 156 of the Collins article.
There are several other articles in this book you would benefit from reading. Especially the one on China. (Hong, Fan, "Blue Shirts, Nationalists, and Nationalism: Fascism in 1930s China").
Hong remarks that the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek used "male bodies as political metaphors symbolizing and ensuring a strong state." In 1934, Chiang launched a vast social reform movement, one he labeled the 'New Life Movement'. It's goal was to 'spiritually purify' the Chinese population, and amongst its targets were the 'diseases' of 'impurity', like tobacco use, alcohol drinking, out-of-wedlock sex, etc.
Chiang at this time was getting military assistance from Germany, and a substantial German military mission was in China. Chiang had long been an admirer of German fascism. And he admired, too, the Germans' War On 'Addictive Diseases', a topic so well-discussed by Robert Proctor.
Like XXXXX, Chiang conceived of social problems as public health problems and 'diseases'. And - like early AA, Mosley's BUF, and the NSDAP in Germany - Chiang thought that a SPIRITUAL treatment was needed for these maladies.
Hong quotes Chiang's own words. Here is one sample:
"Can Fascism save China? We answer: Yes! Fascism is what China now most needs. At the present stage of China's critical situation, Fascism is a wonderful MEDICINE exactly suited to China, and the only tonic that can save it." (p. 207 in Hong, my emphasis).
It is my belief that researching the interconnections between today's symbolic crusade for bodily purity, and the history of world-wide protofascist and fascist movements, is a vital task.
The money-grubbers getting rich off the AA-treatment hustle, of course, have fought that kind of investigation tooth-and-claw.
They don't want anyone looking their gift horse in the mouth.
20 Nov 2002
ZZZZZZ bleats the right-wing line: Reaganomics worked!
A REAL economist - Lester Thurow, at M.I.T., and one of the nation's premier economists - has a very different opinion. the following comes from Thurow's, The Future of Capitalism, 1996, NY, Wm. Morrow and Co.
"In the decade of the 1960s the world economy grew at the rate of 5.0 percent per year after correcting for inflation. In the 1970s, growth dropped to 3.6 percent per year. In the 1980s there was a further deceleration to 2.8 percent per year, and in the first half of the 1990s the world could manage a growth of just 2.0 percent per year. In two decades capitalism lost 60 percent of its momentum." (p. 1, data on this topic are collected and collated by the IMF and World Bank)
[note, since 1995, when Thurow's data for this book ends, things have gotten worse. The Japanese recession has deepened, and both the U.S. and Europe are now in recession. Latin America is currently in very deep crisis, eg, Argentina, Brazil. Things are worse in other places, too. More on the current situation later - diener]
"... suddenly, in 1968, much like a sudden surge in a long-immobile glacier, inequality [in the U.S.] started to rise. By the early 1990s the share of wealth held by the top 1 percent of the population (more than 40 percent) was essentially double what it had been in the mid-1970s and was back to where it had been before the introduction of progressive taxation." (p. 21-22]
[note, the Bush tax cut for the rich will greatly worsen this disparity - diener]
"By the end of 1994 real [non-supervisory] wages were back to where they had been in the late 1950s. With current trends, by the turn of the century real wages will be below where they were in 1950. Half a century with no real-wage gains for the average non-supervisory worker. IT HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE IN AMERICA." (P. 24).
[note, wages did not fall as fast as Thurow thought they might. We fell to the 1950 level only this year, and not in 2000 - diener].
This post is long enough. I will cite a few more snippets from Thurow in another post, before moving on to other economists, and to raw data from U.S. and World Bank sources.
Thu, 21 Nov 2002
[to another person]
I do not believe you, or anyone, has a moral right to be 'naive' about politics. 'No man is an island, separate unto himself. Each is a part of the main.' You have an obligation to understand politics, and political history. ESPECIALLY, you have an obligation to learn about early AA's close ties to fascism, and how cultural movements of bodily purity in general tend to feed into the fascist project.
I won't get into Afghanistan. Too complicated, and I am no expert. But, yes, Afghanistan DOES have to be understood in world-system, historical terms. (You DO know who funded and armed the Muslim extremists in Afghanistan, and thus put the Taliban in power, do you not? Hint: the same people who sent anthrax, arms and much money to Saddam Hussein a few years ago.)
On the wonderful nature of the capitalist economic miracle, see my posts on economics, labeled, 'contra-the-idiot/econ'.
Regarding revisionism and China.
This is a very serious topic, and a very great danger. My position is the one Orwell held. I deplore the fact that the pigs take over the farm, once the animals make a revolution. I have not discussed the topic in this forum only because it does not directly relate to America's Purity Crusade. But China is a great tragedy and a great danger.
I much admire Joan Hinton, who has now lived in China for some 50 years, and speaks fluent Mandarin.
Hinton is the grand-daughter of the inventor of Boolean algebra. The family was working class, but made up of brilliant minds. Joan ended up getting a Ph.D. in physics, was recognized as extremely gifted, and was touted by Fermi as a future Noble winner. She was invited to work on the atomic project under Oppenheimer, to which she made important contributions. She was then invited to continue that work, by helping to develop the H-bomb.
But the U.S. dropped the bombs on Japan. And then McCarthyism and the Cold War began. Hinton was disgusted. Her brother was doing research in China (he later wrote a classic ethnography of a Chinese commune), and he wrote to her to say that the communists were fighting for worker equality. She gave up her career in physics, and went off to participate in the Chinese Revolution! (What a woman!)
She made, and is still making, an important contribution to China's poor. She has become a world-class expert in the management and breeding of dairy cattle, adapting dairy stock to fit the Chinese situation. Now in her last years, she and her husband run a dairy farm some 50 miles from Beijing. They are tolerated by - but NOT loved - by China's current rulers. But the poor Chinese who work on the farm love the Hintons. It is run as a communist commune.
Interviewed lately by NPR, Hinton said bluntly, "The Chinese revolution has failed; capitalists have regained control of the country."
She points to mass poverty in China today - which was absent in the Maoist era. She believes the Cultural Revolution was basically correct, though there were serious excesses, too. She notes that today's economic gains are built on an infrastructure ALL Chinese fought and struggled to construct. But the rich are reaping the profits now, while millions of poor are starving.
Was it all a failure, a waste?
No, says Hinton. Poor and working people will have to fight MANY times to gain a just and egalitarian world. Stalinism in the U.S.S.R., and now China today, show us that the rich and powerful may be knocked down, but, like an experienced boxer, they take an '8 count', and return to the fray. The rich won the round in the former U.S.S.R., and they are winning the round in China, too.
But the fight goes on, says Joan Hinton.
Spartacus and his slave revolt failed, and slavery lasted another 2,000 years. Indeed, there is STILL slavery in the world. But Spartacus was right to fight injustice. It is better to die on your feet, than live on your knees.
Personally, I am a weaker personality than Joan Hinton. Weaker, too, than comrades I know in Latin America. One advantage of traveling a lot is that I get the chance to interact with others who are better than I, and who stiffen my sometimes too-weak spine. Solidarity makes us strong, and the fight WILL go on.
Bush will get no easy victory, in his Hitlerite attempt to re- colonialize the world.
22 Nov 2002
ZZZZZZ has stated that economic trends over the last 50 years "have been mostly positive."
This is wrong.
The issue is crucial. REAL material and practical problems generate social dis-ease, and it is social dis-ease that underlies 'addictions'.
Here are a few more points made by Lester Thurow, nationally-prominent economist at M.I.T.:
1) "In the decade of the 1980s, all of the earnings gains went to the top 20 percent of the workforce and an amazing 64% accrued to the top 1 percent." (p. 2)
2) The social welfare state, in both the U.S. and Europe, "has essentially gone broke." (p. 5)
3) Thurow notes the U.S. has been running massive trade deficits for some time. [I will post the raw data later]. In some years, $400 BILLION dollars in imports have been 'charged', i.e., foreign firms take and hold U.S. treasury bonds, U.S. corporate bonds, or U.S. currency, etc., in exchange for goods they export to the U.S.
Thurow asks, "When the lending to America stops, and it will stop, what happens to current world trade flows?" There is no other market that can sop up the massive surplus in world productive capacity that now exists. Yet,
"No one can run a large deficit forever.... The question is not whether an [economic] earthquake will occur. It will. The only question is when.... " (p. 196).
4) Meanwhile, average Americans watch their wages fall, their government services evaporate, and the nation's infra-structure decay around them.
"Until the early 1970s a truly global economy did not exist and unskilled Americans were awarded a wage premium simply because they were Americans." (p. 78).
This has stopped. Average Americans - and especially minority and poor Americans - are no longer needed. They are not needed in factories. Many factories have moved overseas. They are not needed in the U.S. military in mass numbers. The U.S. military is smaller, more high-tech, and voluntary-mercenary now. Moreover, much of the cannon-fodder that protects GLOBAL capital is recruited in the countries where that capital is located, e.g., the Colombian Army guards the U.S.-owned oil pipelines in Colombia.
The average American is, simply, surplus labor, and, as such, is no longer needed nor respected. Global capital sees him as unnecessary, selfish, weak. The unemployed, ZZZZZZ has said, are 'addicted' to not working. THEY are the problem.
"You are 'addicted' to a decent salary, you ass. Shut your mouth, and pee in this cup!"
[to a critic:]
That you are 'proud' to be in on the War Against Drugs/'Addiction'/Terrorism - along with others who post on Addict-L - is hardly surprising. You earn your living off the 'addiction' myth.
(Many German biologists lamented the 'stupidity' of the crude Nazi politicians - even as they accepted government money to work on the 'race' problem.)
Please, don't BS us about how independent your clinic is from government.
This is a total crap, and you know it. That you would say such a thing demonstrates you are dishonest. As you well know, if the government and corporations did not FORCE 'addiction' indoctrination on people, and if the elite had not created and hyped an 'addiction' moral panic in America, there would BE no clinics such as the one you work in. How many such clinics existed, for example, in 1960 - before the 'conservative revolution'? Basically, NONE.
Had the U.S. government continued to pursue a 'welfare state' strategy towards 'managing the poor', you and your type would now be mouthing corporate-liberal baloney, instead of the 'addiction'-myth baloney that you actually do mouth. If the Great Society still were intact, you and your type would be picking up a paycheck for helping to distribute food stamps and AFDC checks, instead of indoctrinating people with the 'addiction' myth.
But the War On Poverty gave way to the War On Drugs. This was a major STRATEGIC change on the part of America's elite, which faced an economic crisis in the early Nixon years. When you suck up to [Congressman] Hatch, you are sucking up to a voice that has long been heard, arguing that a 'conservative revolution' in America is necessary.
The 'conservative revolution' introduced a new method of dealing with the mass of Americans. The elite shifted from corporate-liberal bribery, to a strategy of discipline and indoctrination. Hence, poverty programs declined, wages fell, prisons blossomed, and phonies like you changed your mantra. The 'mechanical materialism' of welfare bribery fell out of fashion, and the Age of Spiritual Recovery was born. Jobs opened up for charlatans like you.
I have never said ALL those who monitor Addict-L are corrupt. (I would not waste time posting here if I thought this to be true.) Especially, NON- professionals monitor this site. I spend a bit of time each week providing a critical voice, so that the kind of bull you guys serve up does not go without refutation. Research shows that even one voice of dissent can greatly decrease the effectiveness of propaganda.
But I do not even claim that all the 'addiction' hacks are CONSCIOUS evil-doers. People have a remarkable ability to do evil deeds, yet see themselves as moral and heroic. (Even Eichmann thought he had offered humanity a difficult, but necessary, medical service, that he had helped eliminate a deadly, inherited brain disorder: 'Jewish materialism').
'Addiction' hacks limit facts, impose speech codes, get court orders to push occultic myth on others, etc. But they often act in totalitarian ways while BELIEVING themselves to be doing the 'higher powers' spiritual work. One even finds 'admirable' types, at the PERSONAL level, amongst this evil crew:
"In most cases, evil is a cultural phenomenon., It results from the
breakdown of tradition. Often it is the most intelligent, most honest, and
most brave who go astray under such circumstances."
Last updated 20 April 2019.
Copyright © 2019, A. Orange